December 3, 2012 was her funeral, and I saw her everywhere.
In beginning to look through my journal to research this entry, I pulled out one of my books from 1999 and opened it at random, and the first word on the page was “Ann.” We were that close.
I was considering buying Ann’s house on 17th Street here in Ada the night of my first date with my wife Abby. After dinner she and I went to that house, which was empty, and turned on a gas fire. We held hands… “We held hands a lot more than anything else that night,” Abby recalled recently.
Ann loved houses. She loved to buy them and fix them up. In the time I knew her, she lived in seven different houses, two in Ada and five in Shawnee. I loved the house on 17th Street, which is why I considered buying it. She and I, and her friends and mine, had a so many good times and bad times there.
“Ann came into the darkroom today, simply wanting to be held.” ~Journal, September 1999
She divorced her first husband in about 1997, and I remember she kind of disappeared for a while. One night when I hadn’t seen her in a few weeks, I invited myself into her house, where I found her lying on her bed reading Dorothy Parker. She didn’t even look up, and I didn’t say anything. I just put my arms around her and held her for a while. We were that close.
Ann flew with me twice, both times in a Cessna 172, both in June 1997. She had an amazing time. In the remarks section of my logbook it says, “Ann Kelley” one week, and “AK – Towering Q!” the next.
“I’m so ‘I don’t know,’ I don’t know anything any more.” ~Ann, March 1998
Ann loved vinyl phonograph records, and loved to play them.
One day in about 1998 we drove to Moore, Oklahoma, to a used camera store, and bought her a Nikon F2, a 28mm f/2.0, and a 135mm f/2.8. She was so proud of her new old gear. I tried to teach her everything I could about it.
I remember the day she told me she had cancer. I was walking across downtown Ada and called her on my cell phone. She seemed almost apologetic about it.
As I dug deeper and deeper into my journal from that era, I found hundreds of mentions of Ann. I was going to include some of them, but there are so many that they are overwhelming me. Maybe someday.
I did manage to find a few images of her that I’d never scanned – they were from the film days. She looks great in all of them.
I don’t believe in divine intervention or the cosmic lattice of coincidence, but there is a song that came into my awareness just a couple of days after Ann died, Waiting, the strings and vocals mix, by Dash Berlin, that expresses how I am feeling. It wasn’t magic that I found it: I was listening for it. I know it’s overly sentimental, but it still speaks to this time…
“Fading of the day
as night takes over
and I can almost feel
“Your memory remains
I breath it closer
I swear that I still feel you near…”
I want to call her and tell her how I’m feeling about all this. Oddly ironic, isn’t it?
Even today, I still nurture a sense of disbelief that she is really dead.