15 Years

IMG_0684Rounding the bend on my way to Clear Lake, I see him in that old Ford pickup truck, driving away – too fast. It’s like something out of a sappy country song.

It’s a memory.

And a wish.

It is fleeting and impossible all at once.

My friend, Buddy, died 15 years ago today. He took his own life. One of life’s great mysteries.

It is quite remarkable, that time has marched on.

Yet I still wouldn’t be surprised if he showed up on the lake one day. I honestly wouldn’t.

That feeling that he’s just around the corner? It’s made 15 years of one-sided friendship easier.

As a mother now to a son of my own, I’ve been really dwelling on this impending anniversary. It is terrifying and motivating all at once. Motivating in that I hope to raise my children to know that I will stand by them if the dark corners of their minds creep from the corners and into the midst of their lives. Terrifying knowing that the dark corners are like the depths of the ocean – unstudied realities.

Oh but what a gift it is, to be Elle and Jay’s Mom.

On this day each year, I make a point to reiterate that I miss Buddy far better than I ever loved him.

And I’m sorry for that.

Dear Grandma: Seven Years Later

Dear Grandma,

Today marks seven years since you left us – suddenly and after your battle with that awful multiple myeloma – and while many things have changed (weight, hair color, habits, jobs, girlfriends/boyfriends) I am glad to report that the important things haven’t changed so much.

IMG_0609

You would be so proud to know that in honor of you and Grandpa, we somehow resurrected our ‘cousins party’ and were able to include Hudson and Lucy – which we enjoyed and know you would have loved. On a fluke, we all ended up able to be at 4090 on Clear Lake for an evening party together and to enjoy a ‘beach day’ recovering. It was exactly how you taught us to do it. Though I’m not sure the party would have raged all night and all morning (Trevor and Jordan!) if Grandpa had been around to have a say!

Elle and I (that’s my daughter! I had a baby nearly two years ago and you would think she was just the neatest thing ever, I’m certain.) arrived at Clear Lake. Here’s how the entrance looks now:

IMG_0536

 

I had raided Meijer prior to our weekend, and I made some hors d’oeuvres…

IMG_0537

 

I drove up after work, Brittany did too. And Ryan drove up from East Lansing (yes, Grandma, he’s a Spartan!!)

IMG_0538It was dark by the time that all of us had arrived. Heck, it was nearly 11 by the time everyone was back together again. But it was worth the wait. Lucy and Hudson were there. You’d be amazed by them both, Grandma. When you left us seven years ago, you might remember this picture of Lucy and Grandpa drawing in chalk on the sidewalk.

IMG_0632

 

Seven years later, look at this — Lucy and Elle drawing on the same sidewalk (new chalk!). When I saw the two of them that way, it made me miss Grandpa so much because he would have thought the party we were having was really something, and I wished so much I could have a photo of him doing the same thing with Elle. It was fulfilling to see Lucy doing it with Elle, not aware of its meaning to me.

IMG_0544

 

Lucy is entering the sixth grade! Can you believe it?! About a year ago, I pulled out all my photo albums and showed her pictures of you and Grandpa with her — she doesn’t remember either of you clearly and I own photos that she doesn’t often see. It was like being closer to you in the only ways possible.

So, let me provide you a little update on Grandpa’s “Board of Directors” to bring you up to speed…

In the last seven years…

Lindsay: left Alma College as Sports Marketing Manager, began a career with ARAMARK at SVSU then as a District Marketing Manager, then left ARAMARK to work for Birch Run Premium Outlets which is where I’m at today. I got married this past April after dating Jon for about 5 years and having Elle in October 2011. I’ve been elected to the Board of Directors at Clio Country Club and have generally enjoyed myself and found a nice groove in life.

Tyler: graduated from the University of Michigan the same year as Jordan, chose to go back to school for a computer science (style) degree and was completing that when he got a great job offer from the company/bank he’s with now, and he’s finishing up this other education path. He lives in Lansing. He is still tall.

Jordan: graduated from the University of Michigan and moved to Chicago where he was working in a headache clinic. It was there that he truly realized he wanted to be a Physicians Assistant – so he’s at Rosslyn Franklin completing that education path. He still lives in Chicago. He took a trip to volunteer at clinics in Africa and brought back cool stories to tell. Grandpa would have definitely donated to the trip’s fund — we were so proud of Jordan when he chose to do that. He is still tall.

Trevor: graduated from the University of Michigan (Flint) after leaving CMU. He joined a fraternity while in college and that choice truly helped mold him into a remarkable young man. He played hockey on the club team at U-M and he and my Dad have worked on the silver Mastercraft, rebuilding and restoring it. Trevor still loves the water. He lives in Harrison Twp. now (outside of Detroit). He is still tall.

Brittany: is attending law school at U of D (I think – I get all those law schools confused) and is working at Beaumont and Culver’s and all sorts of places. She is busy. She has been dating Brian for a few years now. She has even brought him to family holidays and parties. We like Brian – he is good to Brittany. Brittany has truly blossomed and is outspoken and smart and witty. I think the world of her. She runs a lot and is a beautiful young woman. Grandpa would have loved to debate and argue with her. She is tall now.

Ryan: is attending Michigan State University after beginning college at Davenport. He is enjoying his time as a Spartan and surprises me with the man he’s becoming every time I’m around him. He is different than I expected he would be – but I’m not sure how. I think you really would have enjoyed watching him grow up. He is funny. And not afraid. And just, I don’t know. Sure of himself. He’s just a good person. He is the tallest of us all.

Logan: is headed to Ferris State University this fall after graduating from high school. He has spent the summer wakeboarding at Clear Lake. Uncle Mike and Aunt Jill bought a boat a year or two ago and that’s been a nice little addition. Logan still reminds me of that boy who would not look at the camera on family picture day — you would know him the minute you saw him. But he’s growing into this young man who I’m so excited to watch grow in his time at college. I think he’s going to really hit his stride once he heads off to school. He is a great guy. He is not taller than the other tall boys. But he’s as tall as the boys were when you left. So, I guess he’s tall (sorry Logan! 🙂

Hudson: starts high school this fall at Genesee Early College. It’s a cool program and he chose to go there and I think he’ll like it. He is a sweet, sweet boy and still is a swimmer. He has braces now. He hangs with the big kids now and holds his own. He is quiet with me – and I haven’t spent that much time with him. He’s 14 and busy sleeping and hanging out with friends on the shore. He’s getting tall.

Lucy: will be in the sixth grade this fall at Clio. She is SO good with Elle. She is an awesome babysitter. She likes to dress in all things glitter and neon (yes, that trend has returned!) and she has lots of friends up and down the shore. Doug and Linda’s grandson Seth came over last night and asked Lucy to sit out at the fire with them. That was cool and weird. But cool. Lucy is not yet ‘tall’ but she is the tallest in her class.

IMG_0572We partied without you on Wednesday night. At the counter. I thought you might like seeing this — all the bread and crackers on the counter, all the grandkids around the counter. We don’t get many days like this, so it was awesome that we were all together.

Some things you’ll be glad to know…

Trevor and Jordan are still at it. Their relationship is much the same as it was the day they learned to crawl.

IMG_0582This photo showcases the two of them, after staying up all night to watch the sun rise (with Brittany and Ryan at their sides), having not gone to bed, they were trying to determine if the height Trevor claimed to be was accurate. This is how they chose to figure it out…they are so funny. And interesting. But funny, too.

IMG_0565We all did shots (well, except Hudson and Lucy…but we actually made them non-alcoholic shots to do with us, so they could join in the toast) to toast you and Grandpa, and that seven years later we’re all still together and love each other. Aunt Jenny was there too!

IMG_0545Elle had to go to bed before the shots — she and I took this in the middle of the night, as she was falling asleep. She is the coolest person in the world, Grandma. I wish you’d met her and known her — well, mainly I wish she’d known you.

IMG_0563And since granddaughters are best…:) here are the girls!

IMG_0581Grandma, this is what we awoke to (or, if you were Jordan, Trevor, Brittany and Ryan, it’s what you stayed up to welcome) on Thursday morning. Clear skies over Clear Lake. And that magnolia tree – the one planted after you died – right in the middle.

We miss you.

We miss how you planned the menu for the weekend and told everyone what to bring.

We miss coming for the weekend.

We miss holidays and birthdays and bragging about our grades.

We miss Arnie’s runs and returning bottles and filling the boat and ducking Grandpa’s bad moods.

I miss you sitting at the head of the dining room table, smoothing the tablecloth.

I miss you drinking Diet Pepsi.

I miss sitting on the beach with ‘bevs’.

I miss never having garbage in the trash cans (Grandpa, it turns out, was really onto something and set my expectation levels very high when it comes to emptying the garbage throughout a house).

I miss you.

We miss you.

Still…

having known you, having had you in my life. Having spent the hours and days and years together that we did — I know this:

You would have loved that we were together.

You would be proud.

You would have exaggerated all the best parts of it in the retelling.

I love you.

We miss you.

We are together because of you. Thank you.

Love,

Lindsay

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Juxtaposition

It’s funny, the way things look up against one another.

Thursday night Andrea, Molly and I and our babies enjoyed a laid back evening dinner at Andrea’s house. They had just closed on a cabin across the street from her Dad’s cabin. It was an exciting time.

Friday, her Dad had a brain aneurysm and was gone.

 

My Dad, who successfully conquered bladder cancer 20+ years ago, had to go in Wednesday for surgery to remove ‘they-didn’t-know-what’ from his bladder.

Now I’m a parent and shuddered at the thought of my own daughter not having her Dad.

And then it went and happened to one of my best friends.

 

We grew up on the same lake, where our grandparents both had cottages.

Her Dad had a cabin at the same lake, and that’s where Andrea and her family had just bought their cabin.

It used to be the place I went when everything else fell apart. Then IT fell a part and I found other places, friends, people to lean on. And Andrea could never fathom how it went from what it was to what it IS.

Unfortunately, now she gets to know.

 

You try so hard to protect yourself, the people you love, your children, everyone you care for from the world, from spontaneous car accidents, from themselves. And then, you get a crappy phone call from someone whose job it is to tell you to come quickly, as you sat safe at home, protected. Or so you thought.

 

And I’m so sad for her. I get a lump in my throat thinking of it. And isn’t part of it that when it happens, for a glimmer of time, we’re grateful and thankful that it’s not us. Not this time, at least. Those of us who have lost – and lost big – know the impossibility that living, breathing, eating poses in the face of great loss and we’re thankful that, for this one moment, we can support the grief instead of owning it.

I wish I could un-ring this bell for Andrea, for her family. But I can only be her friend.

 

There will be life. There will be loss.

There will be sun. There will be clouds.

There will be rain. There will be wind.

There will be floods. There will be drought.

There will be friends. There will be foes.

There will be memory. There will be fantasy.

But at least there will have been…well…something, anything, to allow us to savor our time here together.

 

Tomorrow I’ll write something not so Debbie-Downer. I feel like my blogs have been that way lately.

Tomorrow I’ll write something fun and tell you something good, because that’s what we want to hear.