I know I promised to dedicate the next entry to Mollie, but she will have to wait. I have these great inspirations to write (usually while I'm driving) and then I forget. Or I have an idea and then I lose either my motivation or my time at the computer (despite the fact that it is my own).
But today I had a really fun encounter on Facebook. Take the glazed look from your face. A friend from college published 100 books you should read before you die--you are supposed to check off the ones you've read. I'm not even going there, but it was fun to read the list and think about what was and wasn't on there. Bridget Jones yes, Secret Life of Bees no. So then we did have a brief discussion about what was omitted and why (it was originally published by the BBC so no Proust). I even got a new FB friend out of it, some new reading recommendations and reconnection with an old friend on a new subject. All before 9 a.m.
Appropos of nothing I started thinking about Kelly Corrigan and my friend Leah. I could tell you the whole thought process but then your eyes really would glaze over! Several friends have emailed this to me and I've dutifully passed it on. There are no threats of bad luck attached just the connection to someone who has put my life into words. Someone who understands what friends and family mean in our lives.
In it she mentions The First Laugh After the Loss. Actually I've watched it about 20 times and today was the first time I noticed that line. The First Laugh After the Loss. It's one of the biggest comforts during the grief process. You can call it up again and again. It's like a little flower that grows and lets you know that it will be OK. Well most people have heard the story, but I want to keep it for perpetuity.
Leah's loss was sudden and shocking. When Robin left me a message to call, she sounded terrible. So what did I do? I called Leah. Leah was someone we all turned to. We'd all just gotten an email from her offering her life coach services for free in the new year. We were planning our next Avon Walk for New York City. It wasn't her time. We were robbed.
Well we weren't called the Pigeons, but we were and are the Beta Delts. Beta Delta Chi--Burning Down the House. The picture above are the Beta Delts who made the trip along with Leah's boyfriend who is slightly out of focus at the end of the table. The other male is Reuben who is an honorary Beta Delt along with a lot of other Sigma Chis but that's a whole other conversation. So when Robin called (I like to think that Robin and I were the founding members since we lived on opposite ends of the hall, blasted our stereos and both played Talking Heads.), she asked if I would call the others. She had called Leah's family and Seattle friends and didn't have the strength to call our group. Leah, like most of us had many different groups of friends--high school, college, first job, second job, grad school, Michigan, Ohio, Washington. But of course the Beta Delts were some of the closest and most important. We try to be in touch and we've even made a couple of trips in the last few years to reunite. Some or all of us have made most of them. We are all SO glad that Leah joined us on both of them!! So I called. I must confess that while I made the calls and during the course of the evening I got a little tipsy--a martini to start the numbing process. By the last call, I was professing my undying love for Julie. It was probably just like college.
Leah being Leah, one memorial was not enough. She had one on each coast. I really wish I could have gone to both. I'd love to compile all the tributes. The sad little group pictured above gathered for the Michigan memorial. Marjie and I were the first for-sures because we live within driving distance. Then Ellen, poor Ellen was/is living in Senegal. Senegal sounds like an incredible place (you can read about it in her blog SenegalEase), but it is terribly far when one of your dearest friends and confidants dies. We went back and forth and finally found her a ticket so that she could come. It was really important. Then Peg and Reuben emailed to say they wanted to come it was just a matter of scheduling.
We all gathered in Southfield. I immediately felt comforted just by their presence. I hadn't seen Reuben or Peg in a really, really long time but it didn't matter it was like graduation was yesterday--it had just been a really really busy night. We spent a lot of time driving around in the snow looking for some place to eat. I don't know why but there was something comforting in that too. When we finally came upon the place above, we were so happy. Oh and we had picked up Ciss, Leah's boyfriend along the way. Fittingly in the full circle of our lives, Ciss is from Senegal.
We stayed at the Hawthorne Suites. We got a 2 bedroom suite and a Queen room. The price seemed a little too good to be true, but I checked with Leah's mom and she said despite the fire, it was a very nice place to stay. Reuben, Ellen and I stayed in the 2 br and Marjie and Peg stayed in the Queen room which had a pull out couch.
The next morning we gathered for breakfast. Peg was near tears, but not those sad tears we'd been experiencing the past few days. I said, "what's up?" Well the story goes something like this. Peg and Marjie went to their room. They decided that they'd use the sleeper sofa so they could each get a good night's sleep. Marjie in the bed, Peg on the sofa. Peg went to pull out the bed, but there was something stuck. Was that a remote control? She grabbed and pulled and squealed. It was silver and shiny and no remote control. Yes, it was a dildo.
We laughed and laughed and laughed. We tried to figure out the scenario that would have someone using it on the pullout rather than the bed. We laughed and laughed some more.
It was the relief we needed.
It was the missing piece of our comfort.
It was the First Laugh After the Loss.