Life Without SAI…

It’s pouring rain, it seems the heavens are crying right along with me…

I went to the mailbox to retrieve my mail (something I often forget to do) among the AARP notices, and grocery flyers was a small white envelope with familiar or what I thought was familiar handwriting. The return address on the envelope was from a friend’s daughter in San Diego Ca. My first thought was, why is Shirley writing me from Jill’s? Eager to see what was going on with my friend, I opened the note a small card fell to the ground. I picked it up quickly and pulled out the note that was enclosed and read it – I froze reading the few simple lines over and over again but not being able to grasp what I was reading. Dear Ginny, So sorry to inform you of Shirley’s death. Our hearts are heavy. Jill

I don’t recall how long I stood in the parking lot feeling detached from the universe – I walked back to my condo numb, opened the door and cried. I cried the tears that only loss can bring the never-ending well of tears… Not only did Sai die, she died a month ago, her service was on July 5th! Where was I?  What was I doing? How could I be so oblivious? Why didn’t anyone inform me? Questions always follow loss, I wonder why? My next thought  was this would be a good breakfast discussion with Sai, only there aren’t going to be anymore breakfasts…

To write about our relationship would be akin to Tuesdays with Maury … Shirley and I met in 1978. I was a snot nosed new nursing grad working nights in a nursing home, for the summer. I decided to stay in RI and not move to New Orleans so I was working at the nursing home until I got a position at a hospital. It was a tumultuous time for me, I was twenty-one and unsure of everything…  Shirley took me under her wing she gave me the confidence to be the nurse I never thought I could become.

Shirley also taught me to love myself. She told me not be afraid to try things, to be an explorer. She gave me the gift of wonder-lust. I craved adventures and  I travelled and sought out new experiences.

When I started taking pictures with a small insta-matic, she encouraged me to pursue photography.  I bought my first 35mm Minolta and took thousands of slides. Then she introduced me to Stieglitz, Adams, artists like Wyeth and O’Keeffe. Shirley awakened my creative soul.

Sai loved I was in martial arts, she was one of the few people who championed my decision to leave nursing to open my own school. “Follow your heart love.”

Thirty four years of friendship – It was more than that. I recall her laughing when our paths crossed at a high school fashion show, because I introduced her to another friend of mine as my mentor. “Well, no one has ever called me that before!”  Not only was Sai my mentor she was a confidant, a kindred soul, an agony aunt, a friend… She got me through the first steps of real adulthood and took me to the precipice of middle age. Hugging, laughing, sharing books, adventures, solving the world’s problems over breakfasts… So how do I get from middle age to the golden years without her? I don’t know, but I think she’s passed  me some sort of torch. I need to be the kind of friend to my friends that Sai was to me…

Our last breakfast ended the way they always did, hugs at her car with goodbye and I love you…

So goodbye, my friend, I love you.


By gin

A master teacher in the martial arts, trying to master her life and her thinking to create a better world....


  1. “Ginnie, the journey you took with ‘Sai’ was heaven sent…the friendship & love was meant to be…all the positives in life she showed U are now meant to be ‘passed forward’ to another in need of compassion & positive direction….wishing U happiness in ‘Sai’s memory’…

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