Tuesday, January 18, 2011

She's not dead, yet...

My brother died at 26, some 30 plus years ago. I learned then that no matter how hard you try to hold the memories, they fade. Only certain images, flashpoints, remain. No telling what they'll be. I remember his laugh. I sound like him sometimes and hear him in my own expressions. I remember his eyes, deep and sometimes menacing, as older brothers can be. But I know, it doesn't matter how hard you hold on, the realness of their being slips away, piece by piece, year by year. And it doesn't get easier. People who tell you that lie. Yes, it changes...acceptance becomes necessary. But it isn't easier; it's only different.

I learned yesterday I am to loes a very close friend. Soon. I am already trying to stash memories like a squirrel preparing for a long, cold winter.

And so, I will record some of those memories here so they will remain for a time.

I was 18 the first time we met through a mutual friend.I had few friends in Tucson, having just moved there for college. I took her a handmade Easter basket and hid in in her garden.  She never forgot it and was delighted. We were instant friends...as doesn't happen very often.

She took me to Apache Lake to ski for the first time. She could ski and rip a rooster tail so far, I was amazed. I never learned to ski on a single ski. She looked great in her bikini and she fed me and taught me the ropes of "the lake". We slept in the desert sand. Temps at noon peaked over 100. I climbed under my truck in the dirt for shade. Eventually we figured out a black bag hanging up for warm shower water. We were young and the heat and dirt didn't bother us. We laughed, a lot.

The last time I was there I commented on her ruby and diamond ring, shaped in a heart. She was born on Valentine's Day. She took it off and handed it to me. She's far from rich but would give me anything. I tried to give it back but she wouldn't hear of it. She bought herself another one that's identical and we both wear them every day. I gave her a claddagh ring the next time I was there. Love, friendship and loyalty reign.

One of her favorite expressions is: "Doncha know?" She got it from another friend who died of cancer a couple years back, an old beau of mine.

So many friends gone...and to be gone. Fuck.

She always made great Italian food and could cook any wild game and make it delicious. Her husband is a big game hunter and has dead animals all over the walls. We laughed about that....

Her husband will say, "You're a fruit cake, but you're MY fruitcake." He loves her so. I feel so for him.

She gave birth to her son in Lake Tahoe. I taught him to read. Helped him learn to swim. Housed him the first time he left home in San Diego. He now has his own daughter and he is still like a son to me. I could cry for him...and will.

She and I went to an 1800's New Year's Eve party a couple years ago at the lake. She was Pocohantas and i was Miss Kitty. We danced and drank and watched the moon rise above the mountains.

In the morning. we got up before anyone else and the lake was like we'd never seen it in all those years. Glass, to the point you couldn't tell where the horizon started or ended or where land divided from sky. Here's a picture...and if you turn it sideways,  it becomes an alligator.
I love her so.

She is in hospital to be sent home. Nothing they can do.

I will see her soon. And I know she will live in the tiny caves of the mountains along with the peeny, teenie, weenie little Indians who live there that she used to tell all visitors about. And past that horizon, into the nothingness and all of everything.

And one day, I will join her there. Here...

Monday, January 17, 2011

When somedays become THIS day....

I was far away from home, knew few people, and did not have money to be home for Christmas. Mary Irene Bagolini, aka Mib or Mibbie, befriended me and I was not alone that year, nor ever again in regards to a true friend.

She is a master of stained glass art and I have examples of her work all over my house. She tried to teach me, but I did not have her skill. She took me to Apache Lake, which is to this day, one of my favored places for spiritual renewal and carousing and walking bars without spilling a drink or ashtray while being barely able to walk at all after a long day of water skiing and tipping one after the other in the hot Arizona sunshine.

Her son calls me his second mom. He lived with me in San Diego as a roommate and taught me to make manicottis.

She was Italian all through. And at the lake there is a mountain with a big M carved into it which we have all come to know as Mibbie Mountain.

Today she learned she would not live for another year and could barely speak to me and certainly will not remember it. So our someday we'll go to Italy will never happen. And someday became this day today. There will be only memories now.

Someday I will never see her again..but I will never forget how she made me laugh, made me feel loved in her presence, and how Christmas will always hold her spirit in my heart...

I am saddened but blessed. This was the last time we will ever go to the lake together, taken last summer.