I'm feeling sad.
We are about to head to New York City where we will attend the YAI conference again this year. However, this year will be different in one major way. Manuela is not here with us. It had become tradition for us to travel down to NYC together, in a rented van, and attend the conference. We'd stop in Binghamton at Wegmans for dinner on the way down and dinner on the way back. We'd introduced her to their 'Garden Cafe' and she loved it as much as we did.
The drive, there and back, was full of chat and chatter and lots and lots of laughter. We'd plan out things for the coming year, dream big dreams, share dark secrets. Busy people, even those who work together daily, sometimes need to be shut up in a moving vehicle to be able to actually connect. And connect we did. It was on those drives that our friendship renewed and solidified itself.
In New York, itself, we always went to Ellen's Stardust Diner, one of my favourite restaurants in the world, for dinner and I can still remember Manuela being captivated by the atmosphere and the music and the food. It was great to share something with her that she, too, came to love. Joe and she had their own traditions. They'd get up really early, for them, and go out for a walk up to Central Park. Every morning. Joe never told me what they talked about, this was their time and it was private. I respected that, and after maybe ten times, never asked.
There's more. Like Manuela's shopping at Macy's. Like, even, the conference itself. Like so many things.
Like so many things that aren't going to happen this year.
Manuela passed away almost a year ago. She was a young woman. She was a vital woman. She was very alive. And then she wasn't.
And I miss her.
I'm feeling sad.
The trip is ahead of us. I know we'll have fun. I know that we'll go back to Ellen's, I know that we'll do what we always do in New York. I know that we'll continue with our traditions. I know that.
But we'll have a new tradition.