This particular tribute is especially difficult for me to write and I only hope I can do Bonnie justice. Bonnie and I were friends for nearly a quarter of a century. She would have been 61 years old today, but sadly we lost her all too soon. Bonnie was born and raised in Akron, Ohio. She lived the last part of her life in Atlanta, Georgia. Just by the way Bonnie lived her life, she was an exemplar of social justice.
Although she could present a gruff exterior — and we all know she did not suffer fools lightly — she had a heart that embraced all marginalized voices. From the nine turtles she saved and adopted, the many dogs and cats she rescued, to standing in solidarity with the LGBT community and with the aging community, her dedication to civil rights and women’s rights was unparalleled. Bonnie walked in every AIDS Walk Atlanta since the very beginning. Bonnie’s voice will be sorely missed.
Bonnie was the boss of all of us and inspired everyone to be their best person, although I have to admit she did have a devilish way of making me act out. Although she was chronologically older than I, she referred to me as her Granny. Probably because I would just hold her hand, fix meals for her, and fuss at her if she did not go in for her mammogram. To be honest, she also called me Granny because I can’t stay up past 9:00.
Our traditional New Year’s Eve extravaganza would usually start at 4 and Bonnie, Joanie, and I would be asleep by 8:00. Our friends who knew us well knew you had to leave by 8:00 because we would be asleep. I did wake up at midnight and would wake up Bonnie and Joanie for a quick toast to the New Year and then back to sleep.
I was in my early 20s when I met Bonnie and was immediately in love with her — with her contagious laugh, her irreverent sense of humor. Over the years we built a life together and have a shared history. Bonnie knew I was gay before I did, as she was wont to remind me of often. Bonnie is one of the reasons why I married my wonderful husband, for Robert had to get her approval.
The pain of losing someone so close is at times unbearable; there are times throughout the day that I feel as if I’m choking, or I break into tears. Other times something funny will happen and my immediate reaction is to want to call Bonnie. Right now it feels as though a huge part of myself has been ripped out and I cannot retrieve it. I desperately try to just be grateful Bonnie was a part of my life for so long. I know she lives forever in our collective laughter and acting out.
A heart is not judged by how much it loves, but by how much it is loved by others; it is obvious how Bonnie’s heart embraced the world and I am all the better for just having been connected to her. Her light and wonder were contagious and should be shared!
For those that knew Bonnie, please, I invite you to share a funny story that shines as an example of how witty and irreverent she was.
I love you, Bonnie.