It’s good to be seen

Tonight I’m thinking of my dear friend Andrew who was murdered by his ex-girlfriend in 2001.

I met Andrew on my first day transferring into a new kindergarten.

We never stopped being friends and kept in touch through high school, college, medical school (for him) and marriage (for me).

Another friend Jon once described Andrew as the kind of person who when he walked into a room, everyone breathed a sigh of relief.

He was charismatic.

Funny.

Charming.

Occasionally, I dream about Andrew and I ALWAYS realize I’m dreaming when he makes an appearance so I get down on my knees and start crying telling him how much I miss him.

He always stands me up, hugs me and then chats with me like old friends catching up.

Today, my mother spoke with his mother.

It’s something they do occasionally so that isn’t remarkable.

What is remarkable is that my mom is working on organizing THOUSANDS of old photos into albums and the next picture she plucked from the pile was a picture of Andrew with my dad and I.

Probably a picture from the last time I’d ever see him in person, although that detail only occurs to me now as I write this.

I took the picture, studied Andrew’s face, realized that the picture was taken in the very room where my mom told me he had been murdered.

The very room I was sitting in now.

Waves of nostalgia came over me and I found myself playing back images of him and I in my mind.

Him BLASTING “Top of the World” by Van Halen as he burned rubber out of his high school parking lot after graduation.

Listening to grunge music while playing pool at Andrew’s house.

My visit to see him in Irvine when we were in undergraduate school.

I attempted to relieve the sadness inside me by opening up my phone and scrolling through Reddit.

Lo and behold, the documentary about Andrew’s murder popped up in my reddit stream and I paused before watching the first 15 minutes of it.

I don’t usually watch that movie unless I have a bottle of wine, tissues, and at least a day to recover from my hangover.

The circularity of life is amazing.

I was supposed to think of him and remember our friendship.

And so a toast to my friend:

“There are good ships and wood ships,

Ships that sail the sea,

But the best ships are friendships,

May they always be!”

Class of 2020

It’s a thing apparently to post a picture of your high school graduation photo in support of the class of 2020 who will graduate without the custom festivities that surround the occasion.

It has been 30 years since I graduated high school and though I can’t find my high school graduation photo, I did come across a photo of my sister and I AT OUR HIGH SCHOOKL GRADUATION posing for pictures in an area of our school known as The Donut.

Yes, my sister and I are the same age and we graduated together.

As I look back on our high school days I am overwhelmed with the knowledge of how much potential we had back then.

The world was our oyster and we were prepared to devour it.

My sister became a home health care nurse.

She is on the front lines fighting this terrible virus and I am in awe that she can get up every day and take care of patients when I can barely take care of myself and my family.

She is even in the process of getting her Nurse Practitioner license and I am wildly proud of her for all that she has accomplished as a single woman making her way in the world.

I have been decidedly less independent than her, getting married at twenty two, starting a family and raising a beautiful daughter and a headstrong son.

So much life lies ahead of the Class of 2020.

I have no doubt they will make their mark in the world, whatever they decide to do with their lives.

So Happy Graduation to the Class of 2020!

May your road be long and prosperous!

Checking up

There’s this one boyfriend who I recall very fondly.

He was sweet and sexy and talented.

And boy did we have a love affair!

In any case, it’s been YEARS since we communicated and we are not friends on Facebook.

Then, just the other day, I happen to open up LinkedIN on my phone and voilá!

An update:

My ex-boyfriend just checked out my profile.

Now, I’m not going to pretend that I don’t think of him from time to time.

Because I do.

But enough time has passed that it’s not a steady presence in my mind.

I paused a moment.

Memories came back to me and I found myself smiling.

But I did not click on the link to see his profile.

I do not tempt myself with what I can not have.

Dear you… Love, Me

MichelleI was sick this past weekend with an unpleasant cold and I spent my days in bed watching movies. I rather unwisely chose to watch movies from the ROMANCE genre which had the lovely effect on me of making me sad, lonely, and horny.

I DO NOT recommend watching romance flicks when you’re single. They will only serve to make you feel like an American version of Bridget Jones without the lovely British accent and Mark Darcy waiting in the wings.

Instead of composing blog posts (like I should have been doing), I composed letters in my head to “The One Who Got Away” and “The Man I Can’t Forget.

Romantic letters.

Letters telling him how much I miss him and how I think of him every day.

How my boys still talk about him and ask how he’s doing.

Some boyfriends fade into the background once the relationship is over. Dave, is a perfect example of that. It becomes harder and harder to recall a single memory of the two of us together.

But others, oh other boyfriends take on a life of their own and become your fantasy when you are turned on. The person you compose letters to in your head when you are lonely. And the one whose name pinches your heart a little when you hear it.

Now during the holiday season, the memories are especially strong.

We both LOVED Christmas and had a spectacular time shopping and exploring the Bay Area during the holidays.

We once saw a whole army of Santa Clauses on a beach in Santa Cruz.

j-m1We had drinks at the Ritz-Carlton with his parents and took pictures in front of their ginormous Christmas tree while the bagpipes played in the distance.

I inundated him with gifts, particularly a handmade quilt with a special theme for him.

The letters I write always start out the same.

“Dear you…”

and they end with “Love, me.”

Grief and living

There is a clarity in grief.  As if somehow being unable to hide from the reality of death anymore makes us so much more skilled at living.

I’ve always found it ironic that the times in my life that I’ve felt critically alive are the time when I’ve been grieving:

  • when my son Douglas died
  • when my friend Andrew and his son Zachary were murdered
  • when I received a difficult medical diagnosis
  • When my dog fell out of my car on Highway 80 and was hit and killed

Shocking.  Sudden.  Instantaneous loss.  It shook me out of my complacent stupor and reminded me that life is fleeting.

That in the end, none of us gets out of this alive and someday it will all be over 😦

And there’s something about not just knowing that but actually feeling it in your body that make us all live a little brighter.  Enjoy our lives a little bit more.  Sometimes, a great deal more.

All we are left with are memories.  Which is why I feel an overwhelming desire to create more memories – with my family, with my friends, and especially with my children.

I have renewed enthusiasm in getting out there and doing something fun.  Starting with this weekend.

I’m taking Duncan and going to my aunt and uncle’s cabin in Pollock Pines.

There will be shenanigans

Oh yes.