I met Sandy at Summit Ave. Coop in Madison in the early 1990s. She lived there in the 1980s, but kept coming back to visit a few people. She eventually met me and her husband there--I guess we were some of the people who kept her coming back there. She was older than me by 15 years or so, but that did not hinder our friendship in the least. She taught me so many things about life--I'd listen to her stories of drug use, her life as an exotic dancer, and her struggles with depression and physical pain ... She lived these lives, and told me about it, so I didn't have to. They were cautionary tales and far from anything in my own life, but I also saw that she survived and learned from these experiences, too. She was "clean" and "reformed" by the time I met her. She was older, and had learned her lessons from those experiences. When I knew her, she was learning to become a Naturalist, giving nature tours and loving ecology. She had to give up the dancing because she couldn't wear the high heels anymore. We had many heart-to-heart talks through the years. She was always honest with me. She taught me how to stand up for myself at a time I let a lot of people walk all over me. She was there for me during some of the toughest times in my life. For all that, we spent a fair amount of time laughing, too. Ah, Sandy's laugh was BIG. So was her smile. And her heart.
Sandy died unexpectedly 2 months before my son was born in 2001. She had struggled with mental illness and pain for years nearly 25 years. I miss her, but I know she's not struggling anymore. She is gone, but not forgotten. I am grateful I got to know her, glad she was part of my story.
This image with Sandy holding a leaf to the water ... Now that she's gone, it feels like she IS the reflection on the other side of the water. Kind of like that Harry Potter scene where he loses Sirius through the veil.
Here's another version, less tea-stained.
Over the years, I've considered using this image for an art quilt, but I haven't taken it to the net step, yet. Maybe I never will. The photo is beautiful in and of itself. The magic of photography is that is captures a moment in time--forever. When I asked her to pose for this photo, I had no idea it would become iconic. That it would be my favorite photo of her, and a memory of our 1994 afternoon together in The Baraboo Hills.
I miss you, Sandy.