Monday, August 28, 2017
If one was to describe my romantic life pre-Ben, I truly think he could quite aptly use the word "love-lorn." Once, when I was twenty or so, in a vicious fight with my then ten-year-old sister, she yelled, "No wonder boys run away from you!!"
I wittily (I thought at the time) retorted, "No wonder you don't have any friends!" Uh, good one, Kar. And way to take the high road. My gosh.
Let it be known that my sister and I are now get along famously. I was recently spending time with an old friend, and when I told her this, she said, "Really????"
Miracles happen. Or, more aptly, growing up happens. (Sorry I was such a craptastic big sis, Lex.)
Joining me in my love-lornness was my high school bestie, Pooh. When we would relate our tales of heartbreak and unrequited love with one another, where I would use a lot of figurative language ("Trying to function without him in my life is like cutting my arm off and trying to function!!!") she was more succinct. And probably a lot less obnoxious. She would plaintively, wistfully, yet very simply say, "I just want a rellllAYtionship...."
Now let me explain. Pooh, despite her nickname (which originated with her brothers, and which I, keeping with what seems to be a hallmark of my personality - my obnoxiousness - continue to call her), is a very proper young lady. She doesn't use cuss words. Nary a hell nor a damn. But it goes farther than that. She doesn't even say crap, or sucks. When she asks how my kids are doing, I'll say something like, "So-and-so (anyone who intimately knows me will know of which child I speak) is just a butthead, Pooh! Despite my best efforts!! How has a child like this sprung from my loins???" When I ask how her kids are doing, the farthest she will go is to say, "So-and-so is an extreme punk. Not just a punk, Kar. An extreme punk."
Punk is strong language for her.
But it's not just the lack of...earthy...language that sets her speech aside. She has exquisite pronunciation. Her s's are crisp. Her wh's include the breathy h. She finishes her -ounds with each phoneme included. As I've spent more time with her mother and her aunties, I've realized where she gets it. Her mom, Bethie, her Auntie Siggie, and I were recently looking for a parking spot. Bethie somehow got turned around in the parking garage and was driving the wrong way, and nary a spot was to be found. She said something to the effect of, "Well, Jiminy Crickets." Siggie quite properly (and jokingly) intoned from the back seat, "Now, now, Beth, that language is beneath you!!"
I adore them.
So when there is an l in a word, Pooh will make sure it is flicked lovingly off the tip of her tongue. "Belllllieve me, Kar, it was a nightmare." "I rellllly upon you to see this through." Well, that last one seems like a dire thing to say. I can't think of a situation where she might have said such a thing to me, but you see what I mean.
Being the consistently obnoxious person that I am, I would tease her from time to time. We'd be talking about our dating lives, and I'd elbow her and say in a wispy voice, "I just want a relllllllllAYtionship....." And she would always gamely chuckle.
Eventually, a truly great relllllAYtionship came into her life, when we were in college. She met a gorgeous, huge, generous, funny man named Cazzie. He played football. She was smitten with him, and he with her. I knew she would no longer need to yearn for that relationship.
And what a relationship it was.
They brought out the best in each other. They encouraged each other to reach further, to be better people. They were both sharp thinkers, and Jane Austen should have watched these two if she was looking for examples of witty banter. They were evenly matched. They were teammates. They were in constant communication, because their schedules were crazy. They're busy people, and their kids are busy people. They tag-teamed and dropped off and picked up and coordinated. They encouraged each other to spend time doing the things each of them loved. They didn't need to be together constantly to know that they each were loved. They had the same parenting style, and they supported one another in that way. They never spoke ill of each other. I think the closest Pooh came was usually a sigh, and a "Well, he's being neat." And that was the end of it.
Pooh was generous in sharing Cazzie with everyone. Caz had a magnetism that was undeniable. A kind of star quality. Whenever we spoke, he made me feel so important. He's talking to me! I've never met another person who has had that effect on me, I don't think. I know others have felt that. Cazzie did have a million friends, but then I think he also had another million people who really wanted to be his friend. Admirers. Fans. Pooh shared Caz with all of them. He was a remarkable person - truly, a person to be remarked upon. She was never jealous of the time he gave to others.
What a relationship it was.
Pooh shared Caz once again this weekend. He fought a very quick and very fierce battle with meningitis. As he lay on life support in the ICU, hundreds - and I mean hundreds - of people came to see him, to see Pooh. Caz was a coach, and the lives he has touched are very, very many. Pooh shared him. She let every one of them come into his room and cry over him, hold his hand, kiss his cheek. She hugged every one of them. She became a consoling rock as others wept and mourned. She patted their backs and looked into their eyes and spoke to them. She could have spent every last millisecond ensconced with him in that room. I know I would have. He was hers. She was his. She had that right. But, just as she had graciously shared him with the world for the past 17 years, she did so once again. She has given a profound gift to hundreds of people in the past few days.
I know that relationships like this beautiful, sacred one go beyond the grave. Pooh is now sharing him with heaven. He has work he will do up there. Hundreds more to touch. When Bishie, Judgie, and Marlo grow up, they'll know what kind of relationship to hunt for, because they had a perfect model in their home. Pooh and Caz were a team. A unit. They talked through disagreements. They hugged. They loved each other devotedly. Someday, they will reunite in a joyous reunion and never, ever again be apart.