Five years ago today, Zenchick's best friend Amy passed away. I was privileged to know her for a brief time. She made quite an impression on me. I never even had a single one-on-one conversation with her, as she always seemed to have an entourage around her, and we never had any real quality time. I have always been saddened by that. I felt cheated when she died, because I had been so looking forward to knowing her better over the years. Like so many others, I thought we had all the time in the world.
Last night I attended my church's annual holiday party. I was exhausted from a long week of irritating work and a bit too much socializing. I’ve also been feeling the familiar weakness that comes with anemia, and I’m thinking of taking the iron replacement pills again. Nonetheless, it was a beautiful evening, a little rainy, but not cold, and I knew I was going to a place where I could shuffle around like a zombie on tranquilizers and nobody would give a damn. So I schlepped myself and the three boxes of Pepperidge Farm Cookies in the dark and the rain. It was rather a nice walk.
As I was trudging along 76th street from Columbus Avenue to Central Park West, umbrella in one hand and cookies in the other, I thought of Amy. I started talking to her, and crying. I was crying for my non-existent career, my almost-but-not-quite string of relationships, my church where I used to feel nurtured but now feel like a number, and my physical weariness just seemed to create an environment for freely flowing tears. It was dark, and lightly raining, so I gave in to it, and let myself cry for a block or so. “I need…” I said out loud.
I knew Amy's yarzheit was coming up (the anniversary of her death), so maybe that's why I thought of her. I also remembered that the last church holiday party I went to was two years ago, when I was still living in my ex-husband's house. I felt a wave of grief wash over me... I've had plenty to grieve in the last few years. In that wave, I felt Amy.
It seems arrogant of me to think I would feel her, or that she would visit me. I truly barely knew her. I met both Amy and Zenchick through my ex-husband, who were all friends in Baltimore. She died before we ever had the chance to really connect in that way that girlfriends do.. and I had so hoped for that. After her death, she has become a larger-than-life personage to me - beautiful, artistic, intelligent, funny, loved by all who knew her. Probably because I didn't know her well in life, my image of her now, after her death, is idealized, tall, shining, wise... like a Goddess.
Most of all, I always wished I could have talked to her about my ex-husband. Could she have helped me to know him better? Understand him better? They had been so close for so long. They had even dated briefly. I was looking for some sort of magical key to him, and if anyone would have had that kind of insight, I imagined it would be Amy.
Less than two months after she died, I saw her in a dream. I had a nightmare about being at an amusement park, and the ride we were on broke down. It was a water park. There was a shark swimming around us. I was there, so was Zenchick, Amy, and my Ex-Husband. I was screaming and panicking, and Amy was laughing. Nobody else seemed to be aware anything unusual was happening. I turned to Amy, and she grabbed my shoulders, and said "Relax! It's fine! Isn't this fun?" I was too freaked out. She tried again. "We're all going to be fine," she said to me, not laughing anymore. But I just couldn't calm down. I was terrified.
Sure enough, the ride came to a halt, and we were all unharmed... and I was the only one who hadn't enjoyed myself. Amy was flushed with excitement. Nobody else seemed to notice her. She was giggling at me, eyes sparkling.
That morning, when I told the hubby about it, he said, "Well, Amy would definitely tell you to relax and enjoy the ride."
Amy. I've tried to take your advice to heart. I never learned how to really approach life anticipating enjoyment until I was in my 30's, and you were gone.
Was that you last night? Was that you, 4 years ago? Have you seen how much better I've gotten at enjoying the ride? Can you tell that I've learned? That I'm still learning?
I'm sorry I hurt your friend, Amy. I really loved him, and we tried as hard as we could. I'm sure, wherever you are, you understand... but I want you to know how well I meant, how hard I tried, and how I will always wish that he and I could have made it work.
Thank you for Zenchick, and for L too, though I don't talk with her as much. You live on in them. And maybe, just maybe, a little tiny part of you lives in me too. Perhaps through our friends, and through the veil between this world and the next is how we are meant to know each other. How very special that makes me feel.
Peace to you, Zenchick, and L, and Amy's family, the other two Amy's, Brian, David. You are all in my thoughts.