I’ve been in a funk the last ten days or so. Nothing specific to bitch about – just an overall blah feeling. No enthusiasm for much of anything. But, then it dawned on me today - when I felt really teary….today is the anniversary of Rona’s passing – my first Big Susan. Once I acknowledged that and shed a few tears, I felt better – as if she needed to be remembered. As if I could ever forget.
This seems a good time to remember – who my friends were, who they are and why they are important. Not all of them are gone though some may no longer be a regular part of my life. Some I simply don’t often see. Others are just so far away that connecting can seem so hard. Regardless, I’m grateful for them all.
I remember those quieter friends from middle school –a horrible time in my life (was this a good time in anyone’s life?) Those few who sat next to me on the bus, invited me to walk around with them on field trips and quietly supported me when the bullies voices were the only ones I really heard. I don’t talk to these folks anymore but I’m eternally grateful to them for being there. I look out for these types of friends in mini-me’s class – and encourage her to reach out to those a bit more quiet or a tad more shy. I know just how important those friends can be.
I remember my camp friends – some were friends at home and most were friends only at the cabins. They became my besties and my family during those long hot weeks when I got shipped up to Camp Louise. I kept in touch with a couple for a few years but like many things when you’re a kid – you just keep moving and discard what isn’t convenient. It seemed like we would be friends forever and though we’re not, I’m sure glad they were there. They made being away from home way more fun than should be allowed.
I remember my high school friends – some of whom I have seen regularly over the years; others I just see on Facebook. Not all of the high school friends were always nice – and I’ll be the first to admit, I wasn’t either. I was still bullied, rumors still spread – but I learned who to trust the hard way – by first being part of the problem and finally understanding that being part of the solution was way better. I love hearing and seeing how their lives have turned out and for some- I sure wish we were closer because it seems we have so much more in common than just high school.
I remember my college friends and work friends – those special folks that come and go from our lives when we are at our most transient. Old roommates and those that had the desk next to me. For a short time long time ago our lives were connected. They made those classes, those long work weeks – those early business trips – fun. Sort of.
I remember Lips asking (in that annoyed voice) me just last week why I didn’t let people help me. It reminded me of my old friend Shiny telling me in the same annoyed voice that I could trust her to share what is bothering me. I’m reminded that I have help- if I just ask. I remember Geek telling me about how life in another state would be a really great thing for me – even if meant we would have to say goodbye. And, Neiman offering to fly in during a personal crisis – more than once. I’m reminded that I have wildly generous friends who do so much for me. I remember Handy telling me – so quietly – that he really doesn’t think I should do something but recognized he had no right to do that. I heard him and am reminded that my friends truly care.
It goes without saying that I will always remember my mother and the original Big Susan. I would not call either of them my friend - they were the moms – but their friendship fundamentally changed me and showed me what it meant to be there, to offer support, a shoulder and unconditional understanding. They showed me what it meant to be a friend.
Of course, I will always remember Rona. She knew all my secrets and through her I learned that being a friend through the better is easy and that being a friend through the worst is a gift. I know I’m a better friend because of her.
Missing people – especially friends – is so hard. Normally, when I was feeling like this, I would call the original Big Susan. She understood that void - that empty friend-shaped space in my heart. Perhaps that is what makes it so hard this year – now that she is gone, there is really no one that truly understands what it means to lose a friend.
Judaism has a saying – “May her memory be a blessing.” I find great comfort in that – it reminds me that while memories may remind us that someone is no longer with us – literally or figuratively –we were blessed with their presence and the recollections of our time, experiences, and friendship. Missing them may be hard, it may make me cry – but there is laughter behind the tears. It reminds me how lucky I was that they were – that they are - in my life. And, that is truly a blessing.