Monday, September 11, 2006

you are one in a million and i love you so...

Originally uploaded by mamazilla1972.

ever since september 10, 1993, the month of september is like a passive aggressive, drama obsessed, acquaintance that i can never really rid myself of. i think to myself, "ok, i think that was the last time i'll talk to him/her." and then, a week or a month, or a year or so later, i'll get an email or a voicemail that's supposed to "catch me up" on this person's latest news. and something akin to guilt or duty, will force me to open the email and read it or listen to the voicemail and actually save it - i may even be tempted to respond.

i get into this melancholic fog in september, it never fails. and i try in vain to find something - a project, a person, a book - to act as a metaphorical lighthouse, or at the very least, an interim distraction, and nothing really works. i eventually come to the realization that i just have to ride it out. mid month, i comfort myself weakly, "it could be worse, september could be 31 days long, instead of 30".

13 years ago, my best friend, andra brubaker, and her sister, erika, were killed in a car accident.

andra and erika were exceptional people. they were beautiful people. i've never met anyone like them since and i doubt i will ever again. i consider myself one of those "blind squirrels" who scurries around in vain, but every once in a while finds a nut. in high school, i lucked out and found these two. and as faithful a catholic as i pretend to be, i secretly pray for reincarnation. i pray that they've been reincarnated, somewhere next door.

i remember when i found out the paloma was a girl. i would hold my belly and hope. i gave her "andra", as a middle name, just in case. i listen to the paloma's earnest conversations with her friends hoping to hear a little voice say, "cool beans!" or "don't be such a pifflehead".

i'll never forget the last time i saw her. we were both 21. she was planning on attending garrett that fall and had gotten an apartment. while we wandered around in evanston, which we did a lot, she pointed out the apartment building where she would be living. i remember her telling me that she and her mother had bought some basic necessities, dishes, cookware, etc. i was living in chicago, still attending columbia college. eventually it was time to go home. i had to take the L, but she could take a bus back to des plaines. before she got on the bus, she told me that she was going to be driving to ohio with erika to visit her grandmother for grandparents day. but, she'd call me when she got back. i remember thinking we should do something special for her birthday on the 27th. she waved goodbye to me from the back of the bus as it turned the corner. i never saw her again.

i was home and the phone rang and i heard her mother's voice. i immediately thought something was really wrong, then quickly switched gears & scolded myself into thinking, maybe she's just calling to tell me she's planning a surprise for andra's birthday. but, i was right, she was gone. on their way to ohio, there was an accident and they died instantly. i got off the phone and rode empty trains all night. i just didn't want the roaring in my ears to stop.

i miss andra terribly. i miss her so much on some days, i just lie down on the floor and consciously talk myself through breathing. i miss getting the long letter w/ the doodle filled margins & the same closing, "be careful, be good, be nice" safely tucked in a whimsically illustrated envelope in the mail. i miss the quick random late night phonecall. i miss her humorous and wise counsel and her optimism, tempered with a pinch of doom & gloom.

almost everyday, there is something i want to tell her, something i need to ask - foolish things that only she would understand, could explain and/or relate to with parables or jokes with punchlines that i could never predict.

deep down, i worry that maybe if andra was alive today, we wouldn't be friends now. i am not who i was thirteen years ago. i'm not who i was 9 months ago. i worry that maybe we would have grown apart like other friends who have quietly and slowly disappeared into the distance. but, i'm pretty sure we would have found a way. even when i knew her, she was an enigma. i knew most of her likes and dislikes; she favored the colors green and purple, she liked to read john irving, eat orange scones, drink chamomile tea, listen to roxy music or prince and play with cats. whenever i question how well i knew her, i remember that one of her ex-boyfriends nicknamed me "andra's left arm".

all in all, i think andra would be happy with how my life turned out. she'd be a wonderful loving aunt to the paloma and the porkchop. and after forgiving my husband for his past trespasses, she would come to love him and roll her eyes at him too. i owe so much to andra, i can't justify how much or frame it with words. i'm a better and happier human being because of her. i love myself and passionately love others because of the unconditional love she showed me. she changed my life and my perspective and shaped so much of who i am. and it's because oh her that i can get up out of the bed, every morning of september 10.

i'm always thinking of you andra, and i'll always try to find you in the crowd.


tessence said...

Wow. You've got me sobbing, reading this. How tragic, and yet how touching the ways that you keep your friend's memory with you.

mamazilla said...

it was more difficult to write than i thought. i'm trying really hard not to edit and edit and edit.

i always try to write a memorial of some kind every year and then i just give up.

since 9/11, i sometimes feel like i have to honor her more and significantly somehow because everyone around me is in mourning. it sounds selfish i guess but i don't want her or the collective greiving of her friends/family to get lost. i don't want people to assume i'm depressed because of the tragedy of 9/11 (not that it doesn't affect me). i dunno. i guess i'm still angry about it too. :(

i'm sorry i made you cry! *_*

Kris said...

I dated Erika in College... I had a dream about her last night. I dream about her several times a year... and they always end similarly. At some point in the dream we are in the middle of something and she starts to leave. She ALWAYS says "I have to go, everything's OK." Then the dream ends moments later. My wife cuts me slack when I tell her about them, as she knows Erika is the only other woman I have ever truly loved. I miss her... I miss Andra. Thanks for sharing!

mamazilla said...

hi kris - i dream of andra at random times of the year... i talk about her endlessly after a dream and my husband cuts me some slack too... he wishes he could have met her. i still keep in touch with mutual friends and andra's mom who's now in ohio. thanks for coming by to visit and comment... you've brought back more memories and the reminder that i should send some flowers soon. :)

Kris said...

Would you mind send me Inara's address? I ran into her a few years back when she was at Hope for the presentation o fthe memorial award in Erika's name. Unfortunatly I didn't get her Ohio address. Is she living at the home of her mother?


mamazilla said...

hi kris - i didn't feel comfortable giving out inara's contact info so i sent your email info to her. i'm sure she'll contact you soon. if you don't hear from her it might be because she's travelling. she's like a celebrity with all the globetrotting! :)

Kris said...

No problem... I found it on the web anyway! Would hate to think how easy it would be to stalk a 65 year old woman... I understand though. I'll let her know when I write how sensitive you are to her privacy.


The Reluctant Vixen said...

Hi there,

I was Andra's roommate at the U of M for one schoolyear. I know it is so many years later, but sometimes I think of her, and I just found your blog. Many years ago, when I thought of her one day and wanted to get back in touch with her, I found out the horrible news.

I hardly knew her as well as you, but many of the things you wrote about resonated with me- the letters with the ornately decorated envelopes, her character, cats, boyfriends... I miss her!

Renee Faucher

The Reluctant Vixen said...

p.s. Geraly- I just looked at your blog again and saw your name- I remember her talking about you : ) I don't remember what but the name is so uncommon that when I saw it I was sure I hadn't heard it since from Andra.

I wanted you to know that sometimes thoughts of her come out of nowhere, or I'll think of her when I am looking in a shop window and something reminds me of her. And, a big one, when I am feeling bad about something, or my life ("why don't I have this or why haven't I done that"), I sometimes think of her and how unfair it was that hers ended, and am usually able to pull my head out of my a**.

I really appreciate your writing about her, as difficult as it may be!


Geraly said...

renee - after reading your comment, i have been resisting the urge to go thru andra's letters and see if i can find you in them... :) but, we're in the middle of packing for a move to a new apt in the neighborhood and neither my husband or kids would appreciate me upending the box of andra letters... :)

thanks so much for coming by and reading and sharing your thoughts with me... it's always comforting to me to meet another person who knew andra... sometimes i wonder if i idolize her too much - and then, i talk to someone else with similar memories and feelings of loss - and it's all justified. :)


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