"I grieve over them almost like you do a family member. And I think of them, but you try to keep the good memories," Dolly Parton said.
Everyone that Dolly Parton considers to be close is lucky to have her as a friend. For Parton, the passing of Naomi Judd, Loretta Lynn, and Kenny Rogers still hurts. The last few years have been painfully difficult for Parton. Rogers, a longtime friend of Parton's, with whom Parton has sung many hit duets, died at age 81 in March 2020. Then, in April this year, Judd passed, followed by the death of Lynn in October this year.
Parton said she has relied on positive memories of Lynn and Judd, to get through the otherwise challenging grieving process in an interview with Hoda Kotb that aired on TODAY on December 1. "With Loretta, she was very dear to me, like a sister," Parton explained.
When Lynn passed, Parton posted a moving tribute on her social media, referring to Lynn as a sister. The country singer said she was extremely sorry to hear about the passing of her "sister" from Nashville. "We've been like sisters all the years we've been in Nashville and she was a wonderful human being," she wrote on Twitter.
"Same with Naomi. We were (the) same age, and we loved the same things. And I loved her. And then I also lost Kenny Rogers — three of my dearest people — in essence, in a very short period of time. And I grieve over them almost like you do a family member. And I think of them, but you try to keep the good memories," she told Hoda Kotb.
Parton had expressed a similar emotion when Judd passed earlier this year. Parton shared a touching message on Twitter in which she remembered her friend and fellow country music icon, expressed how similar they were, and congratulated The Judds' on their induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. “I was so shocked to hear about Naomi’s passing. Naomi and I were close. We were very similar. We were the same age and both Capricorns. We loved big hair, makeup and music.” Parton wrote, adding that Wynnona and Ashley were like sisters to her.
Parton expressed her disappointment at being unable to join them in their celebration, but claimed she could hear “Naomi saying now, ‘Oh well, a day late and a Dolly short.’ Congratulations and condolences are both in order. Just know that I will always love you.”
One song, in particular, Precious Memories by Alan Jackson makes her think of them, Parton reveals. "The line I love in that song is, 'Precious memories, unseen angels sent from somewhere to my soul.' And I think about that. Those precious memories," she shared. "They just flow in and out of you, and you remember special things about them." In her memories, Parton continued, their presence still lingers, and they "feel like unseen angels, and you feel like they're still all around you."
"Oh, my God. That's so beautiful. I feel very weepy," Hoda responded while wiping away tears.
Cover Image Source: Getty Images | Michael Loccisano