D and the Pope

When I talk about her you can count on one thing for certain, I will be smiling.

The Spring before she left us, she invited me to Colorado for a girls weekend, she insisted I come and well she never took no for an answer. I went.

It was the second time I had visited since we had reconnected. She met me at the airport  smiling and needing confirmation that she was still her. Two of us arrived at the same time, Monica and I . Denita directed me to ride with Monica, a friend I had just met. I did as I was told. As I rode with Monica we discovered a few things, we were both Marines and we shared the same birthday. Our friendship was sealed.

We arrived at her home and settled in. I got the tour quickly from D showing me around her lovely home, it was beautiful. Her freewheeling style was everywhere, the home was lived in. From the creative expression gracing her daughters walls to the half painted wall in the living room she never finished because she got sick again. It was filled with her.

There was a group of us invited us for a girls night dinner. We woke up that Saturday and sat at her table and feasted on her mom’s red gravy and eggs. A recipe I wish I knew how to make.  And then the preparations began in full force, a trip to the grocery store, some wine, some laughs. We were preparing the king crab legs and she directs me to a buffet to fetch a plate. I begin opening drawers and there inside the second drawer is a wrinkly photo. I pull it out and look at it, then I turn to Denita and say “Is that the Pope?” “Yes” and you? “Yes” What’s he doing the drawer? Why isn’t he in a frame on the wall?

And she begins to tell me the story of  she ended up in a photo with the Pope. She essentially auditioned and was selected to serve the Pope during his visit to Denver in the 80’s. I was dumbfounded. She went on to tell me details of the responsibility and how honored she was to serve him. And that was it, that simple, Denita and the Pope.

We continued to prepare the dinner. That night she told me that she didn’t want to be Denita the sick woman, tonight she just wanted to be Denita. And she was, she put on a wig, did her makeup perfectly, topped it with red lips. I thought she never looked more beautiful.

Her guests arrived and I soon realized that I was awash in a sea of beautiful Latino women and I was a minority. It mattered not one bit. We dined on Brie, seafood , great wine and it was glorious. I remember Miranda her 7 year old asking me if she could give me a “head massage” I said sure. My hair was very short and I didn’t mind a bit. She threw her butter drenched hands into my hair and massaged away. Some of the guests were aghast. But what I remember was Denita laughing.

She laughed that rich, wonderful laugh of hers, and I remember.

Until Next Time,



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