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Monday, February 17, 2014

Mortality and Moving Forward

   I've always been one of those people who doesn't sleep well. I toss, I turn, I plan out the next fifty years of my life and I think about the past. I think far too much about the past even though my present is happy. When I am laying there in the dark, a parade of faces passes through my mind and I go through so many assorted memories. I'm not young anymore, but neither am I old and there are so many in my past. Some I loved for a little while, some I hated, some hurt me, some I hurt. But all of them shaped me into who I am, for good or for bad. Where are they? Are they happy? Did their lives become something to be proud of, something that leaves a legacy the part of the world they inhabited will remember fondly.

   My sister has been gone almost 2 years. Rarely a day passes that she doesn't cross my mind, even though I know I'll see her again.  My memories of her are so varied, so ever present.

   Where are Carol S and Ed R? I spent many drunken nights laughing with them when my first husband was in basic training. I remember one Summer day at an outdoor concert with them, drinking beer and listening to blaring country music. I also remember hating Carol for a time because she slept with said ex. 

   Where is Ricky W? He made my life hell for a time and left my face, body and soul bruised. During those late night thoughts, I always imagine that he finally ended up in jail as someones "good friend". A kind thought from me? No. I forgave him long ago, but I'm still human. Same for the men who assaulted me in Cleveland Ohio many years ago. 

   Speaking of Ohio, where did Ralph end up? He once gave me a card into which he had written the entire lyrics to "La La means I Love You". He went to Case Western Reserve University and I remember how flattered I was because he was so damned handsome. But alas, I was living with an older drug dealer (I've had an...interesting... past) named Dave so I had to ignore handsome Ralph... and I have no idea where Dave ended up either. He was 11 years older than I and the personification of the word Hippie. To me, in my naiveté, he was so cool and oh so slightly dangerous. My memories with him lie in working on a street crew in Cleveland to help pay the bills (I guess small time dealing didn't pay well), him stealing my clothes one night when I was drunkenly passed out in a car and how one night when I was mad at him, I took 5 of his street strength 357 magnum speed pills and nearly killed myself. Nineteen is a pretty dumb age. Where did his friend Scott end up? Short, cute Korean guy who tried everything he could think of to get me to sleep with him. Did he ever go to school like he wanted to? Are either of them alive?

   Jerry... Jerry killed himself. The memories of Vietnam were too much for him and he blew his brains out in a hotel room. I still think of him often. Who would he have become?

   Gary Robert H. God, I loved that boy. He touched me and I felt electricity. He smiled and I went weak in the knees. Where is he now? Is he happy? Do I ever cross his mind?

   Ellis K? My first love and the first man who taught me what it's like to be used. Does he look back too and regret the things he did?

   Faces. Names. Memories. They swirl through my brain like a blizzard gone wild. Is this what aging is? Is this why you see the elderly with a vacant smile on their lips and a tear in their eye? It's so easy to get lost in the memories, so easy to get lost in the "what if's". What if I had been nicer to that person, what if I had not gone through that empty parking lot that night in Cleveland, what if I had not had that drink, what if I had said yes to that question and no to that one... what if.

   But... I'm only 49. We're not supposed to be losing people we know yet, are we? Like I said to a friend tonight, isn't 50 the new 30? Aren't we supposed to have decades left to laugh, to love, to hurt, to cry, to...well...make more memories? Aren't we still those kids with scraped knees, those teens wearing bell bottoms and listening to REO Speedwagon? Those 20 somethings having babies and watching the world change around us? Those working class folks in their 30's wondering when our kids became young teens? Those men and women turning 40, dying the gray hairs and looking for wrinkles? When did our babies have babies and turn us into the grandparents?

   Some of the faces are still here. Older, maybe fatter lol, definitely showing traces of age. But also showing wisdom in their eyes that wasn't there at 15, 19, 22. Definitely showing some weariness, signs that life hasn't always been easy. Also showing  grace,  laughter and more life than I think many of them expected they would have at this age when we were young.

My brother is still out there, still cracking bad jokes, making me pee my pants laughing with some of his texts. That whole pee the pants things.... yeah, blame aging there too :-p

My dearest friend Craig.  Still out there. A little gray, a little wrinkled, but still plugging along and still very much a part of my life.

Cheryl... still out there. She drives me nuts with her penchant for airing family laundry , but you know what? She drove me nuts with that when we were kids too, she just didn't have the internet to do it on lol. She also has stayed one of the most loyal friends I have.

Tonight, when I go to bed, the memories will still be there. I'll especially think of Patti, the reason for this post. Barely 50 and died of an apparent heart attack a couple of days ago. She was anything but kind to me when we were kids. But we grew up. We became friends. She becomes a memory now... a what if... part of the nightly swirl. So I'll lay there. I'll toss and turn. I'll think. And I'll remember. Faces, names, memories. I'll remember. Always... I promise to remember. To keep them all alive.