On April 4th of this year I lost a friend, Rachel. I haven’t really thought too much about it, for a lot of reasons. There was a memorial service two weeks ago, which I didn’t attend. I had a previous commitment, and honestly, I wouldn’t have gone anyway due to a personal issue. I’m fairly certain Rachel would have understood, at least that’s how I justified it in my head. Regardless of what Rachel may have thought about it, she would have been blunt in her opinion.
When I was in my later teens or early twenties I remember a kid I went to school with died, I want to say his name was Tommy. I remember sitting at the dinner table, I can’t remember if I was still living at home or if it was laundry night, which was Tuesday.
I asked my dad how it happened, and he said Tommy ran across route 17, which was a highway, and was hit by a truck. I made a snide comment, something along the lines of, “Yeah, that sounds like something he’d do.” He’d always bullied me, and was over 250 pounds in school, how did he think he’d make it across a highway, I thought as I said it. There was no love lost for me.
I remember very clearly what my father said next. “Don’t speak ill of the dead.” I can still see his face through a cloud of cigarette smoke he blew out as he said it. I was kind of shocked, because my father spoke ill of everybody. Also, I thought, I wasn’t speaking badly, I was just speaking the truth.
I told that story, so I could say the next thing. Rachel was a big friggin pain in the ass. I get to say that, because I am president of that particular club, and I don’t mean the local chapter, I mean globally. She was loud, abrasive, had no filter of any kind, and you were going to listen to her opinion whether you liked it or not, and whether you wanted to hear it or not. She spewed sewer vocabulary from her potty mouth that could make this Jersey boy blush. Her use of the word fuck was unparalleled in any arena or mob movie. I’d want her on my side in a bar fight.
That was Rachel, but not all of her of course. I don’t see anything wrong in remembering the whole person. And those of you that knew her nodded your head in agreement, and probably smiled, at the previous paragraph.
She was also sweet with a heart of gold behind the brick facade. She loved animals, especially horses and her cat. She was like that pain in the butt sister you have to love except I chose her instead of her being foisted upon me by some horny, unthinking parents. Sometimes, I wouldn’t hear from her for weeks, and then I’d get ten texts in a row every day for a week when there were boyfriend problems (sorry Joe…).
We met at the Freethinkers group I belong to. Funny thing is, I actually asked her out once, just after we met, about three years ago I guess. Then, I was away from the group for about three months, and there she was dating Joe when I got back. Oh well, we would have killed each other anyway.
I bring up the Freethinkers because I hosted a potluck, we have them monthly, and somebody in the group hosts. She was complaining about the music, touching my computer to change it, she turned on the TV, etc. etc. I was really annoyed, until I watched her at other potlucks. She didn’t do that. It struck me, that maybe she was just comfortable in my house, and with our relationship, that she thought she could just go ahead and do those things. I wasn’t annoyed any more after that, and saw her, us, a little differently.
Rachel was an acquired taste. I won’t miss her every single day, but overall I will think of her often, and I will smile every time I hear a strong woman flinging expletives out like baseballs on opening day. Did I mention she loved baseball?
I’ve been writing this in my head since the day I found out she died. Not sure why I chose today to put it to paper. It did feel good writing it though. Rachel would have laughed and pouted, but mostly she would have corrected my grammar.
Our birthdays were just a few days apart, that was part of our little bond. It wasn’t a deep, life-long kinship, it was only a short time, but we understood each other and that worked.
So, to my birthday buddy, I hope you sleep well and long, but mostly, I hope you have found your peace.
If you see Audrey, say hello for me.