This afternoon was the memorial service for my beautiful friend, Aubrey Bean.
Aubrey was my co-worker at KEXP, but it was quite possible that I would never have gotten to know how wonderful she is. We worked in different departments, on opposite sides of the building from each other, and rarely crossed paths. But, during pledge drives, she would come sit in my office to be closer to the DJ booth. And that’s when I totally fell in love with her.
Pledge drives are maddening and stressful, but I came to look forward to them, because of the time I got to spend with Aubrey. Right around 2:00 PM, she’d come by with a sing-song “Hiiii!” and we’d set up her laptop on Kevin’s desk. Sometimes she would bring bread that she had baked to share with me. I remember her showing me her wedding dress online after she had ordered it. We had girly, giggly, wonderful afternoons together (when we weren’t trying to raise money for the station, of course).
I remember sitting near her during a Pledge Drive Creatives meeting, and just being so taken with her loveliness, her long graceful neck, her long fluttery eyelashes. After the meeting, I blurted out, “You’re like a really pretty giraffe!” which was so unprofessional! But thankfully she just laughed.
I was crushed when her health required her to step down from her job at KEXP, but thankfully, we were still able to steal away for some girl-time. We’d get pizza and drink wine during the day, which felt so naughty! When she was able to, she’d come volunteer at the station as my “intern,” but really, I felt guilty asking her to do projects for me, and I just wanted to share an office again.
People tend to mythologize those who pass too young, but in Aubrey’s case, it’s all very true: she was an angel on earth. She was incredibly special. I remember one time, Aubrey, Sharlese, and I were having lunch, and the topic of Aubrey’s mortality came up. Sharlese got sad and said, “Don’t talk like that!” But Aubrey was so accepting and matter-of-fact about it. She was like, “I’ve got stage four cancer, hon. We’ve just gotta appreciate every moment we have together!” (Like that moment.) Aubrey helped me learn to relax and stop worrying, and to just appreciate each day for what it is.
I was on one of my many trips to Portland when Aubrey called to tell me that the cancer had spread to her skin. She asked me to let her co-workers in Development know… but I never did, and I still feel terrible about that. On our last visit together, I confessed, and she playfully chided, “Bad girl!” I replied, “I just never made it to your side of the building!”
The last time I saw Aubrey, I felt immense joy to see her, of course, but I also felt this desperate sadness. I can’t remember exactly what I was babbling tearfully, but it was something along the lines of, “I wanted to bring you croissants! And talk about boys! And gossip!” and Aubrey looked at me with those beautiful eyes of hers and said so sweetly, “I’m not going anywhere.” She passed away that weekend, but it’s true: she’s still here, with me, and with everyone who loved her. I am so grateful to have her in my life and in my heart. I am so lucky. We all are.
Even if you didn’t know her, I encourage everyone to read her blog. It’s so honest and brave and funny and sweet and inspiring — y’know, everything she is. “Was”? Is. I’m sure re-reading it tonight is what inspired me to write in my own neglected blog here. This passage was re-printed in her memorial handout:
And so I’m striving to recognize my own power. My own ability to offer something small and meaningful to others, because that’s all I have left to share. I don’t know what form it will come in. But every day will offer new opportunities, and who knows what ripple-effects that will create in the world around me.