Flo died today.
A dear friend of over thirty years died suddenly today as she walked to pick up some take-out food for lunch. Witnesses say she was on her cell phone when she suddenly clutched at her chest and then collapsed. Emergency units were called, but they could not revive her. She was gone.
My dear friend Flo died today.
She was one year older than me. We had exchanged our usual daily texts just the day before. Flo loved to text photos and funny comments throughout the day. She sent me a photo she had taken from the window of the high rise apartment in which she lived. That was at 5:36 p.m. Monday, Dec. 27th. She would be dead by that time the next day. I can’t help wondering if she had any idea what the future would bring. I can’t help picturing her walking and feeling a sudden sharp, unfamiliar pain in her breast. I can’t stop myself from thinking of every laugh we shared. I keep staring at her photograph. I keep picturing her face.
Flo was an original. Everyone loved her immediately. She was an Earthy spirit: mellow, hilarious, clever, nonjudgemental, worldly, wise – so wise – tender and she would literally do anything for you. She was also strikingly beautiful like an African royal with deep brown skin and exotic eyes and a huge toothy smile with a gap between her two front teeth. Flo was sexy. Flo loved to laugh. When she laughed hard, she would wave her hands. She would say: BITCH! in this high pitched voice and you would die laughing. I swear she coined the term “Ho!” “Ho’s gotta eat too …” And she was so damned funny. She was a trickster and loved to party. You could count on Flo for any adventure. You could count on Flo period.
I met Flo in June of 1980. I had just completed my freshman year at Northwestern and she was studying computer science at Loyola University at the same time. We had been hired to work as toll-free operators at Time Inc. taking calls for subscriptions for their periodicals which included Time, People & Sports Illustrated. It was a cool job. All of the hires were college kids home for the summer. Flo and I bonded immediately and remained fast friends throughout most of the thirty years following – she was a steadfast friend and always supported me through my early singing career, through my days of singing with pick up bands and the formation of the Shivers. I could always count on Flo to show up at my gigs.
She become part of my tight network of women friends. We playfully nicknamed ourselves “The Hags” because we all possessed such sharp wit. There was never a more clever, fun loving coven anywhere.
She relocated to Miami in the mid 1990′s because she was “sick of the fucking cold” of our Chicago winters but we never lost touch. We would sometimes talk until the wee hours of the morning on the phone whilst she was in Miami.
We all yearned for Flo for years and descriptions of her past antics filled our recollections. But she had a tight group of friends there also. She had a tight group of friends everywhere. To call Flo “friend” was to know true support and joy.
She was more than a friend. She was family. We grew up through our early adult years and shared so many experiences together. I introduced her to many friends with whom she later traveled to Europe and though I was not on the trips, I heard in great detail the tales that ensued. Flo was a fantastic storyteller. And as always, there were tons of laughs.
And we both shared a great love for Amsterdam.
Last December, upon the death of a beloved sister, Flo returned to Chicago. It was during this prolonged visit that she decided to relocate to Chicago to care for her sister’s son Alvin. She would dedicate herself to his care and well-being. This was the essence of Flo: the nurturer, the giver.
She picked up with us right where she left off. We were jubilant to have her back in the fold: at the dinners, at the parties, at my gigs. Finally, the uninitiated could experience the joy that was Flo.
All was right with the world. Flo was back after almost fifteen years.
And now she is gone. Just like that. No warning. No sickness. Just taken.
O Death. I ask you: Why Flo? Why now?
I… I… don’t understand.
We all look at our lives a lot differently tonight. I am feeling my heart beat tonight. I am feeling closer to death myself.
My mother was taken this same way – with no warning and I was left in this similar place. A place between a silent numbing shock and a primal scream. It’s a place of quiet resignation and utter disbelief.
Oh! My heart is broken. And her family, her nephew, her mother… We are the ones left behind, we are the ones who must feel, we are the ones who must try to make sense of our own lives as we process the sudden loss of one so dear, so full of life and so free. Methinks I must make the effort to be a better friend. To show up and live like Flo always did.
Love you girl. I will always think of you.
This season her holiday card read: “Thanks for being my friend!”
Tags: death, Flo, Florence Vance, friend's passsing, friendship, grief, loss, Lynne Jordan, lynne jordan & the shivers, lynne jordan and the shivers, mourning, sudden death from natural causes, women
Filed under: In the Life of a Diva