We mourn a grievous loss

I have the sad duty to report that Billie Frank, my wife and partner of 44 years, died on October 11th, 2017. She and I were the Santa Fe Travelers. Not only was she my spouse and life partner, we shared an office for the past several years. She loved writing and it was a pleasure to see her grow while doing what she loved. Not only was she the brains behind this blog, she contributed to several other blogs, online publications and print publications. Her passing leaves a huge void in my soul; the fact that it was sudden was merciful but the hurt is deep.

An Outpouring of Support

Billie with Irish friends, Michael and Carmel Joyce at Corcomroe Abbey, at the edge of the Burren in County Clare

It has been gratifying to read social media comments and feel the impact she had on so many of the people she touched while sharing her unique voice with others. Billie was a paradox in many ways. Although she loved engaging with others, whether through the Santa Fe hospitality community or communicating with friends on Facebook and Twitter, she was most comfortable in her bed, her “safe zone”. That’s where she would retire to regroup, regain her strength and be ready to come back and give it her all on another day.

She had a small group of women friends. She was selective. On the day she died I received a phone call from one of her closest friends. The first words out of her mouth after expressing the shock and surprise at Billie’s sudden passing were, “she was a bulldog. She was tenacious and fiercely loyal toward those she loved.” There was no halfway about it. If she named you among her friends you got that loyalty. I consider myself privileged to have shared that loyalty as well.

Billie’s Strength Remembered

Billie as a toddler with her mother, her first teacher, from whom she first learned how to be strong in her convictions.

She wasn’t easy. We met at a time when men’s attitudes towards women were changing. It didn’t take long to figure out where she was coming from. Many men were intimidated by the force of her personality. Those men who had the misfortune to patronize her soon found the error of their ways. There are lots of definitions of masculinity and I don’t necessarily subscribe to most of them but I believe it takes a strong man to be with a strong woman. I’d like to think that I was a strong man with her strong woman. I loved the idea that for her, being liberated was non-negotiable. We were partners in the truest sense of the word. Not only was she strong in living her convictions, she supported her sisters along the way.

She was my teacher. The special relationship of lifelong lovers means that both partners are the chosen spiritual partners of the other. At least that’s how it was with Billie and I. We had a difficult relationship with many tumultuous experiences but we also shared many tender moments with each other.

Remembering Our Life Together

Animals responded to her special energy, photo Steve Collins

Here is a sound clip of Billie reading The Woman Who Blew with the Wind. She wrote the words and is the narrator. Her dear friend, Joey Christenson, accompanied the reading on flute and harp. I thank Joey for sharing this with me.

 

As I write this I am in the bosom of my family, being well cared for. My loss is great. My love for her demands that I don’t short cut the grieving process or glibly pretend that I don’t hurt as deeply as I do and I am grateful for that.

I will continue to post in Santa Fe Travelers at least through the end of the year. At that point I will take stock and decide where to go from there. In the mean time I’ll periodically post a series of recollections of our life together. There may be contributions from other bloggers as well. And I may occasionally repost some favorites from our years posting together.

Sláinte, Billie. We miss you.

 

 

 

 

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28 Responses to “We mourn a grievous loss”

  1. Stephanie Diehl
    October 27, 2017 at 10:17 am #

    So sweet and true.

    • Steve Collins
      October 27, 2017 at 10:27 am #

      Thank you Stephanie! I know she counted you among her close friends.

  2. Debbra Dunning Brouillette
    October 27, 2017 at 10:44 am #

    Wow… I just listened to “The Woman Who Blew With the Wind” sound clip… So touching…and an appropriate tribute to her… “and then, all done, she rose above!” As I was listening, I could visualize this being published as a children’s book with beautiful illustrations. My condolences to you as you continue to grieve Billie’s loss.
    Debbra Dunning Brouillette recently posted..Memphis beyond Graceland: Sun StudioMy Profile

    • Steve Collins
      October 27, 2017 at 3:26 pm #

      Thank You, Debbra! Yes, I felt that way, too.

  3. Mindie Burgoyne
    October 27, 2017 at 12:03 pm #

    I’m so very sorry for your loss, Steve. Billie was a force of nature and I will miss our exchanges on Facebook. I send you deep sympathy and a big virtual hug. May your memories of Billie give you comfort.

    • Steve Collins
      October 27, 2017 at 1:21 pm #

      Yes, A true force of nature. Thanks Mindie!

  4. Irene S. Levine
    October 27, 2017 at 1:09 pm #

    So very sorry for your loss. We will really miss Billie!
    Irene S. Levine recently posted..Amsterdam to Nuremburg on Avalon Expression: An “Active Discovery” River CruiseMy Profile

    • Steve Collins
      October 27, 2017 at 1:20 pm #

      Thanks, Irene!

  5. Suzanne Fluhr
    October 27, 2017 at 2:38 pm #

    As you know from the comments to my blog post about Billie, her life force was powerful enough to reach people through her writing and her social media presence. Her loss affected people who never even met her IRL. If Billie’s Boomer Travel Blogger tribe can help you, please don’t hesitate to let us know. Wishing you peace and courage.

    • Steve Collins
      October 27, 2017 at 3:09 pm #

      Thank you, Suzanne! I’m glad we got a chance to meet you.

  6. Anne Contreras Meade
    October 27, 2017 at 3:05 pm #

    So stunned and sad to hear of Billie’s sudden passing. She was a force, a good woman and good friend. My thoughts are with you and you family. Sending love, Anne

    • Steve Collins
      October 27, 2017 at 3:08 pm #

      Thank you, Anne!

  7. Valerie
    October 27, 2017 at 5:01 pm #

    I am so sorry for your loss. I heard your wife on a podcast and I was very impressed with her knowledge and love for Santa Fe. She seemed like a special and unique person. That was a beautiful tribute.

    • Steve Collins
      October 28, 2017 at 7:21 am #

      Thank you, Valerie! Yes, Santa Fe was a very special place for her. She loved getting to know it better and she loved sharing he passion for her adopted city.

  8. Leslie
    October 27, 2017 at 5:34 pm #

    What a beautiful tribute to an amazing woman. Billie was strong indeed… we all miss her!

    • Steve Collins
      October 27, 2017 at 6:08 pm #

      Thank you, Leslie!

  9. Jim Luttjohann
    October 27, 2017 at 9:52 pm #

    A lovely tribute Steve. I especially enjoyed “She Blew.”

    • Steve Collins
      October 28, 2017 at 7:18 am #

      Thank you, Jim! The Woman Who Blew with the Wind was especially appropriate.

  10. Elizabeth Rose
    October 28, 2017 at 9:38 am #

    Such a lovely remembrance… and the amazing reading and music… “All done, she rose above.”

    • Steve Collins
      October 28, 2017 at 2:56 pm #

      Yes, Elizabeth, isn’t that so apt? Thank you for your help, too!

  11. Joey
    October 28, 2017 at 1:15 pm #

    Such a tribute to the relationship you and Billie
    had! Thank you for sharing with those of us that will miss her and that cherish the fact that she was part of our lives. Many memories…
    Steve, please know that your friends are here for you. I am so grateful that you are with Ethan, Joy and the boys!

    • Steve Collins
      October 28, 2017 at 2:54 pm #

      Yes, Joey, it is good for me right now. I feel comforted in the support of many friends. Of course you know you were a special friend. Thank you!

  12. Lola
    October 28, 2017 at 10:44 pm #

    Sending you and your family so much love and prayers through this.
    Lola recently posted..Spotlight on Duara Travels: Staying with LocalsMy Profile

    • Steve Collins
      October 29, 2017 at 10:12 am #

      Thank you, Lola!

  13. Kathy Muzzey
    October 29, 2017 at 9:58 am #

    John and I are so sorry for your loss. We were so looking forward to meeting you and Billie sharing our home with you.
    Our condolences.

    • Steve Collins
      October 29, 2017 at 10:11 am #

      Thank you, John and Kathy! I was, too.

  14. Keith
    October 29, 2017 at 4:16 pm #

    “And then, all done, she rose above”. What a beautiful tribute Steve to a beautiful woman we all cared for, loved and admired. I can’t begin to imagine the loss you’re feeling right now but I hope that you’ll continue on your path with a new resolve and the passion you both shared. Take care and if there’s anything I can do, please don’t hesitate to reach out.

    Lots of love, strength and hugs,
    Keith

    • Steve Collins
      October 29, 2017 at 4:29 pm #

      She wrote that and I agree her words were quite apt. Thank you for the kind words. Yes I want to continue to write and travel. I won’t hesitate to reach out.

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