I keep telling myself that one day this week I will sit down to write the “final post” for the season. I’m not ready to do that yet, even though today was the closest I’ve come to saying, “Ok – I’m ready to go.” And that is because today, my good friend Jill left the island.
JIB in The Island Bookstore.
As I have said before, Jill is the communicator for Mackinac Island. If Jill doesn’t know about something that’s going on, then it must not be going on. She always seems to be everywhere at once, and when we were first getting to know each other, I gave her the nickname JIB (for Jill in the Box) – because she just popped up everywhere. At first I thought she knew everything because she worked at the The Island Bookstore. I figured there must be some secret information system that fed every little tidbit of news from every corner of the island into that tiny little store inside the Lilac Tree Hotel mall. But then I realized, no – it’s just that Jill knows everyone on Mackinac, and everyone knows her.
How in the world I would have ever kept this blog going without her constant stream of places to go and people to meet is beyond me. It probably would have been dead in the water by June. Jill was a Godsend.
But the best part of meeting Jill was not how much she knew. The best part was becoming her friend. Being Jill’s friend is like taking little rays of sunshine and spreading them across your day – regardless of the weather, regardless of your mood, regardless of how you feel – Jill’s voice and her smiling face can lift you right up. Her spirit is sweet and generous and kind, and she shares herself with everyone.
This summer I have seen her come to the aid of an endless number of people in countless ways – housesitter, meeting someone at the ferry, seeing someone off at the ferry, helping people unpack-then helping them pack, dogsitter, delivering messages, delivering packages, catsitter, buying groceries for others, and picking up mail for a friend. And she is usually taking care of all that before she goes to a a full-time job in the afternoon at the bookstore. She does it all, and she never complains. She never says she’s too busy or too tired to help someone, even though I know that sometimes she is both.
On her breaks from the bookstore, she will walk down the sidewalk and have 20 people speak to her by name before she hits the first corner. She is hailed from the street, from taxis, from bikes, and from stores. She has this amazing ability to make you feel special. That’s what she did for me, and that’s what she does for everyone lucky enough to know her.
Jill left today on the 12:30 ferry. Her plan is to spend a few months with her family in downstate Michigan, then spend some time with friends in Arizona, before returning to the island in the spring.
Ted and I were there at the dock to see her off. She wrote me a lovely note that she gave me as she was boarding the boat, making me promise not to open it until she was well out of sight. I kept my promise.
Watching the ferry pull away, I thought, “Now there is only one more important goodbye I have to say before we leave – and that will be to the island itself.”
Then it will be time to go home.
Our plan is to leave on Sunday.
Have a great winter, JIB! Love you, my friend.