The news of Barbara Bush's failing health is hitting hard in the town Kennebunkport, Maine, where the Bush family has been spending summers for decades.
In the Kennebunkport community, Barbara Bush is more than the former first lady. She is a friend.
"What a gift for us to know her and call her friend," said Helen Thorgalsen. She and her wife, Bonnie Clement, own a general store in town, and have gotten to know the Bush's over the years.
Former President George H.W. Bush was a witness at their wedding, and they cherished walks on the beach with Barbara.
"We love her," said Clement.
Both said Barbara Bush appeared frail last summer, so the news that her health is declining is not unexpected. But it is still hard for them to realize they may never see her again.
"We all want that miracle to happen," said Clement.
A family spokesperson said Sunday that Mrs. Bush will no longer seek medical treatment, and will focus on "comfort care." She is said to be suffering from COPD and congestive heart failure.
"I'm sure she's going to fight to the end, because that's the kind of person she is," said Lisa Mills, another family friend. "She strong, she's wise, and I'm sure her family is all surrounding her."
Barbara Bush gave back to Maine in many ways. She started the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, and Maine's only children's hospital is named after her for her commitment to children's issues around the world. She has visited the hospital to read to children dozens of times.