My Crystal. I can’t help but think about a million laughs we shared and our talks about life and love and the many shots that we threw back in our countless adventures together. I always said that your impetuous nature partnered well with my restless spirit. I don’t know that my husband would always agree. And I know that our bosses didn’t always agree. When I threw out an idea for adventure, you never told me that it was crazy, or that you didn’t think it would be a good idea or talk me out of it. You didn’t even start planning with me to make it happen. You just encouraged me to do it…And you were ready to join me, no questions asked.
We sat in the back of my van watching movies at the drive in and cars would slowly move away from us leaving an empty circle around us because of our laughter, or rather, your uproarious laugh. We danced together-I remember one of my favorite times when you held my hands and spun me around the dance floor. You sang-poorly-along with the radio on our road trips. We talked about everything. You called my kids maggots, lovingly, of course. And you laid on my couch after having just a bit too much wine. You were the constant in my family of choice. A few years ago, I joked that if I wasn’t married, and if I was a lesbian, and you were a lesbian, and if same-sex marriage was legal, I would totally ask you to be my wife. Your response was: “Laura, I am incredibly flattered (insert tear(s)). I would be the best wife to you.” You had my devotion.
When you decided to chase your dreams for a new adventure, I drove you to the airport—twice. I wanted you to live your dreams and have this adventure. I was so damn proud of you and assured you that I would live vicariously through you. Don’t get me wrong, you knew that I was going to miss you, but that was secondary to my desire for you to live awesomely. And you assured me and the girls that you weren’t leaving us. You told us to just think of you as “out getting cigarettes.”
You’re no longer just out getting cigarettes, and that is just so hard for me to comprehend. Your death has cast me adrift from the woman that I was when I was with you. Hearing the news, I wanted to break down the doors of heaven and snatch you back to run off with me on another adventure. I wanted to invent reasons that would explain your absence from my life-other than the truth. I wanted to, as WH Auden wrote, “Stop all the clocks, [and] cut off the telephone.” I wanted to just stop. But that’s not what you were about. You were all about life. I am trying to figure out how to keep you alive in my adventures. Because if there is one important thing that you taught me, it’s that I need to experience life and be surrounded be people whom I love. And I need to laugh-loudly.
I’m grieving because you are physically absent from my life. I’ve never known someone so full of life and laughter and vitality. You challenged me to be the kind of person to experience everything that life has to offer. To revel in the adventure and delight in the oddities. I’m just so lost and confused at the idea of living a life without you in it. You take up such a huge place in my heart that it’s hard to imagine you not being there to take up that huge place in my life.
For you, every once in a while, I will call my kids “maggots” and laugh, I will say “bye soup” to the rabbit when I leave for work, and I will hold our friends close and tell them that I love them. I will ditch work-sorry boss-when an adventure presents itself. I will do my best to, as you instructed, keep your aunt young. I won’t wear “plastic” pants. I will wear red lipstick and low-cut dresses and see through tops. I will sing off key at the top of my lungs. I will make videos of our friends and I doing silly things. I will hike to the top of Cowles Mountain and hear you cursing at me the whole way. I will go to Vegas and feel the velvet. I will not read the instructions every once in a while and just see what happens. I will eat salami at the drive in. I will stay at the bar until closing time and drink one-or more-for you. And I will love you. So much.
You are my best friend. That won’t change.
In the words of Tink, who was the companion to someone who also refused to grow up:
“You know that place between sleep and awake? That place where you still remember dreaming? That’s where I’ll always love you…That’s where I’ll be waiting.”