A friend of mine died about seven years ago in a car wreck. I thought of her tonight as I read an article about the Superbowl flub with the rapper chick that flipped off the whole world (what an idiot, by the way.) And yes. I was just hearing about that. On the night of the big game the most I did about it was make a snarky remark on facebook about how I was practically unaware there was one. Truth is I can't watch the big game, still. My friend died in 2004. We were studying together in front of the tube and watching it and as I was glancing down at a notecard she chirped out, excited: BOOB! Boob! I saw a boob! I glanced up. Fully expecting the screen to be enveloped in a boob and sorely disappointed. It took a minute to understand as she explained that Janet's boob had popped out. I was still deeply disappointed. I naively thought they'd show it in the little screen, since it was a sporting thing and they do that, but sadly, no. That night was one of my fullest memories of her. She had made Valentine's cookies for her husband and he was munching on them and making sarcastic comments, because sarcastic comments to him was like breathing, and I had never seen that side of her before. The cute wife. They offered me a cookie. I can't remember if I had one or not but I remember her insisting.
We went right back to studying, me muttering the whole time about missing a boob, and her getting us back on track with our studying. I seem to remember her flashing me, to get me to shut up about it already and back to studying but I might be remembering that wrong. Maybe it was her husband, which would have been much more disturbing.
I remember how dedicated we were to the program we were in. That we went right back to studying after laughing about the mishap. She had made him the cookies early for some reason that I can't remember and I remember her remarking somewhat sadly that she had wanted something special for Valentine's. That was the year we got snow. In Texas. Real snow too. Like from Northern states. Snow that you could make snowmen out of. I was sadly further down in Texas and only got to experience the Texas-version of snow which is cold spit and slush. She called, chirping excited again: SNOW! Real snow! We made a snowmen, hold on a sec and I'll send you a picture. I sadly informed her my phone didn't receive pictures. Oh well, she went on happily, we made snow angels too! I was disappointed again, feeling like I missed it. It didn't occur to me until, well, now, how cool it was that she got snow on her last Valentine's.
Just before she died it was like she was on fire. Coming alive in every sort of way possible. One of our classmates had dyslexia so she read him off the notes into a recorder. We had to train in the mornings together to work on jumps and the week before she died she nailed the jump. Spinning around with a "yes!" dance that made me pretty sure she'd be able to jump over the moon soon enough. The day she died she was like gold. Every task accomplished with skill and speed and she was practically flying with excitement. She did so well at our last project the instructor made her stop so others could work on it and as we walked out to our cars I remember being surprised she was going back. But of course. She was going back to help others. Because that was the kind of person she was. Someone who brought along the whole class with them when she succeeded. Most people would make study notes and pass them out to close friends, she gave them to all.
The hardest part for me was that she had worked so, damn, hard for it and then... The best part is the memories. The shining blue eyes full of energy. The wicked sense of humor. The way she loved by acting. What others merely thought of in their best moments she seemed to always just do.
She died in April but usually for me the sadness starts in February. Each year it gets a little better. So I have hope. I have hope for my friend who lost her husband last February that it will get better even though right now it's hard as hell. I think, a key, might be in sharing the memories. In capturing the golden bits they left and not forming an idol but flinging them straight back to heaven to glitter the stars. And time seems to lessen the sharpness of the hardest parts. Here's to all who have lost someone, may you find comfort in your grief and hope in your sorrow.