How do you say goodbye to someone like Terri Simon? How do you speak of her in the past tense, someone who has impacted not just your life deeply but also the lives of thousands of others?
I’m still trying to come to comprehend the news of Terri’s death. Understanding isn’t coming easy for me.
Terri and I have known each other for nearly 20 years, and I have respected and loved Terri for all those years.
I got to know Terri first in 1998 when I was hired as a reporter at the Bureau County Republican. Terri already had several years under her reporter’s belt at the BCR and she took me under her wing, showing me the ropes, taking me to meet people and teaching me about the beats I would cover. In time, Terri became even more of a mentor to me as she became the BCR editor, a position she well-deserved. She represented the newspaper well throughout the county and beyond.
Through Terri’s patient guidance and example, she taught me to look at the bigger picture of the story, to ask the tough and probing questions while still being respectful. She showed by example her belief that each person was worthy of a story, worthy of respect, whether they were wealthy or not, whether they were the influential ones or the ignored ones. Terri cared about the person, not because of what they had, but simply because they were.
She was honest and fair, bold and insightful as a journalist. Yes, Terri was an award-winning journalist, many times over, but to me, she was an award-winning friend, many times over.
The hollowness I feel in my heart right now cannot be explained away any other way.
My friendship with Terri grew well beyond the workplace. We talked about personal things, our views of faith, of life and death, of uncertain days ahead for all of us. And we laughed so much together. I was the usual prankster in our friendship and she was the recipient. It seemed to work well that way. We shared the good times and the bad times, at work and in our personal lives. She knew my husband and our daughters, I knew her family and close friends. She was a great listener, a great encourager.
The last words I said to Terri Simon were two weeks ago and those words were “I love you, Terri,” and she shared those same words with me. We had gone out for lunch together, two days before she would be admitted to the hospital for this last surgery. We had met for lunch, which was our regular custom since I retired three years ago. Again, we caught up on the news about each other’s family and friends. We talked about easy things like the fall weather and new places to eat. We talked of harder things, about her upcoming surgery and coming home again.
Our final hug goodbye that day was a bit longer than usual and we shouted “I love you” to each other a second time as we got into our cars. That’s what friends do, you know.
It’s really hard to think about your friend in the past tense. It will take time for all of us who knew and loved Terri to do that. But never doubt, Terri Simon will never be forgotten and will never be replaced.