The Typewriter

Several years ago, I was visiting my dad and noticed my mom’s recipe card box. I asked him if he used them. He said no and was happy to let me take them. I didn’t have many things with my mom’s handwriting and tucked them away to be enjoyed when the time was right.

One night, I got the kids to bed, poured a deep glass of red, and curled up in my favorite chair to just ‘be’ with my mom and her handwriting.

Once I was snuggled in, I started to flip through the cards. That’s when I remembered how very much she adored or was obsessed with, her electric typewriter. Practically every single card was typed. All I could do was laugh as the memories of her at our kitchen table with the gigantic electric typewriter (with eraser cartridges) came flooding back to me.

My mom’s recipe cards, in the metal recipe tin.

Then about four years ago, it was time to get my next tattoo and I knew what the word would be. I know people get tattoos with loved one’s handwriting, but that wasn’t an option from my mom. It came to me quite clearly: typewriter font. Perfect! It makes me remember my mom with a smile while honoring my work as a writer/editor.

A couple of years later and I was helping a friend organize her basement. She asked me the story behind my tattoo and as I shared, I saw something click in her bright eyes. I followed her up the stairs and she brought out this incredible canvas that she had purchased but it didn’t quite work where she wanted it to in her house.

She gifted it to me. Wow! It hangs on the wall next to the desk in my office. Can you read the type-written words? It says I love you, over and over and over again. A sweet message from my mom.

A Real Looker

College was FUN! While I went to my classes most of the time, my focus was definitely on social interactions.

One frat house seemed to meet the needs of my new friends and me the most. They offered free booze and, more importantly, a dedicated dance party in the house basement. The guys were friendly and let’s face it—what college guys weren’t friendly to freshman girls? So, we joined their Little Sister program.

I was assigned a Big Brother to navigate the process and look out for me. Naturally, mine was one of the better dancers and was an absolute pro at the tight roll of his jeans. He had a slightly southern Illinois accent that had him pronouncing Mod as Maude and it was endearing. He really was a nice guy and I felt lucky.

One day, I was sitting upstairs in the frat living room area and a real looker strolled in. A wave of heat rolled right through my body, and a voice, clear as can be shouted in my head: YOU’RE GOING TO MARRY THAT GUY. I’ll call him “Mike Brothers”.

I was intrigued. The problem was, Mike Brothers was dating someone, and I was kind of friends with her. Bummer! Good thing campus was full of other cuties to grab my attention and keep me fully distracted from the mundane things like going to class and studying.

I will say this: Mike Brothers was on my radar.

One task Little Sisters were expected to accomplish was to get the signature of every guy in the house on the wooden paddle that our Big Brothers gifted us with.

At this time in my budding college career, I was skipping down the stairs in my dorm and missed the bottom step. Thankfully, the security team on campus was able to drive me to the ER and I returned with torn ligaments on my right ankle and a shiny pair of crutches. I was devastated that I couldn’t participate in aerobics any longer and also not too sad that I was able to legitimately miss classes for a few days.

Tammy and I, fresh from the ER with my jacked-up ankle.

This injury did not deter my quest for signatures, and especially my newfound mission of getting to know Mike Brothers.

I tucked the wooden paddle under my chin and crutched around that frat house like a champ. I specifically crutched carefully to room 13, heart racing, and flashed a dazzling smile at Mike Brothers. You can bet I got that coveted signature.

There it is!

It took a while to meet all of the guys and during that time I decided I needed to get more face time with Mike Brothers. I will note here that I respected the fact that he was in a relationship. I will also say I found the match a little odd and didn’t think it would hurt to seek him out again, flip my paddle to the other side, and get his sexy signature just one more time…

He got fancy with this one!

Endings

After my dramatic weekend at home, I went back to college. I drove home again soon because it was time for our family to bury my mom’s ashes at a cemetery my dad chose.

He chose a parklike setting and I learned that cremated remains are called cremains and at this particular cemetery, the cremains are all buried in the same area, by a pond, near a windmill. It was ironically similar to the space where I met my mom in my dream.

Still always surreal to see in person.

I didn’t tell The Dude I was coming home. In fact, he had no idea I was home the previous trip either. It was time for a confrontation.

I found The Dude at a house party, well actually a detached garage party. I strolled in, heart racing, and saw him with a beer in one hand, a cigarette hanging from his mouth. I completely surprised him and he immediately tossed the cigarette.

“Babe! Babe, wow, you’re here.” He came in for a big kiss and I dodged.

I dodged for two reasons:

  1. Kissing someone who just smoked was like making out with a dirty ashtray.
  2. Yeah, I was there, and I was there to break up with him for having sex with one of my friends. Not a great kissing moment.

Yeah, I am. We buried my mom’s ashes today. Can we go for a ride?

He was understandably shocked by that statement. I guided him to my dad’s car, all decked out with power windows, power locks, and… a cassette player.

We drove around for just a few minutes and after some icy pleasantries, I pulled the car over and parked. I took full advantage of my dad’s Delta 88 Oldsmobile and its many fancy features. I hit the power lock button and genuinely startled The Dude.

I unbuckled my seatbelt and slowly turned to the passenger side. This created a dynamic dramatic effect. Then I asked him about Homecoming.

How was the dance? 

The Dude answered.

I see. Did you have sex with She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named?

“Babe! No. Babe, I would never do that to you.”

Are you sure?

 “Babe.”

Really, really sure?

He nodded an emphatic ‘no’.

At this point, I pushed the cassette in and hit play.

He listened and then tears started to stream down his face.

It was so dramatic and so fantastic.

I totally forgave him. We weren’t in love, we agreed to see other people. Did it feel good to have him go that far? Absolutely not. Was I willing to go that far with him? Absolutely not.

I drove him home and stayed chatting with him and his brother for several hours. We officially broke up that night. My first official boyfriend was history.

I returned to college and stayed until Thanksgiving break. During that time, I certainly had my eye on my friend Andy’s roommate whom I will call Tall, Dark, and Handsome (T, D, & H).

T, D, & H, Mod, Andy, and Tammy

I filled my days with occasionally going to class, meeting all of the new friends I possibly could, making out with T, D, & H on the regular, becoming a little sister at a fabulous fraternity, drinking, and sleeping.

I found that whenever I would sit down to actually study, my mind would calm, I would remember that my mom was gone, and the tears would flow. I decided I needed to stop those tears from coming. Once they came, it was so very hard to stop them. I absolutely wouldn’t allow myself to break down and found all kinds of ways to distract myself.

I would close my books and head out to find the fun. It wasn’t hard. If friends in one room were studying, I’d skip to the next. I’d keep going until I could find somewhere to land.

At the time, it felt like life was good.

 

 

The Dude’s Demise

My dad agreed that since I was coming home a lot this first semester of college, it was easiest for me to have a car at school. That was so lucky. As I drove back and forth, I really did think things with The Dude were going to work out.

What I was most excited about was the fact that I had an actual boyfriend who had an actual Homecoming dance coming up. And he played on the football team! A tight end. I honestly didn’t know what that meant, but I did know that I loved wearing his old football jersey.

I would, for THE FIRST TIME EVER, be going to a dance with a guy I was actually dating!

Or so I thought.

One day when The Dude and I were talking on the phone, the topic of the dance came up. I could hardly contain my excitement.

“Babe, about the dance. I think I’m going to ask She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named.”

Um, she sleeps with all of her dates.

 “Yeah, I know.”

I was crushed. When I left for school, we agreed we would date around and I certainly was, but She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named? Ouch. She was someone I considered a friend. We were on the same teams. She was his age and they had a bunch of mutual friends going to the dance together.

Okay, you can go. But promise me you won’t sleep with her.

 “Okay babe.”

The dance came and went. My best friend’s younger sister was on a team with She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named. She was hosting a team sleepover one weekend soon after the dance.

The Dude and I were still officially a couple and rumors had started to swirl that She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named and The Dude did indeed do the deed the night of the dance.

So, my friend and I did the logical thing. We drove home for the weekend. Another good friend did the same. We met at the sleepover house, in my friend’s bedroom, and put our plan in motion.

We put a blank cassette tape into my pal’s tape recorder and my two friends slid right under her bed with the loaded listening device.

I sought out She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named and brought her up to the room for a chat. My friends hit the record button just before we entered the interrogation room. I could sense her nerves but continued on. I repeatedly asked her if she had sex with The Dude at his Homecoming and it didn’t take long for her to confess, crying the entire time.

I truly wasn’t upset with her at all. I actually really liked her. But she did sleep with my boyfriend and that was unfortunate. After her tears dried and we wrapped things up, we heard a loud click. I knew that the recording had run out of tape and automatically clicked off.

“What was that?” she asked glancing around the room.

I pretended to not hear anything and ushered her out. My friends rolled out from under the bed with the evidence freshly recorded.

The cassette.

[In hindsight, I wish I had never pulled She-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named into the mess of my relationship with The Dude. At the time, my 18-year-old brain truly thought that was the right course of action. I grew up idolizing Charlie’s Angels and Jonathan and Jennifer Hart. I felt like a justified super sleuth fueled by the excitement of some serious drama.]

The Dream

The absolute busyness of starting college was as much a curse as it was a blessing. Thankfully, the friends on my dorm floor were all very nice and maybe too much fun.

I was happy to have been invited to join the sorority I felt the most comfortable in, even though for a while I was known as “the umbrella girl”. One of our first pledge class activities was an event that involved us all sitting in a circle and sharing a bit about ourselves.

My heart sank a little as it got closer to being my turn. I’d have to share about my mom and I knew it would get heavy, fast. My heart hammered in my chest.

Hi! My name is Karen, everyone calls me Mod. I’m a Radio/TV major from Oak Park, Illinois, and um, my mom died at the beginning of this month.

Crickets.

Tears.

Hugs and support but boy did I feel like a buzzkill. But this is who I was and it felt important that people knew.

My roommate, Kindness, and I got along well. Her friends were nice and we both did our own thing while existing in the same space together amicably. I appreciated her. I definitely believe the fact that my mom had just died made her a little nervous, but she truly never let it show.

One night, we were both sound asleep in our beds that were just a few feet from each other. I had an incredibly vivid dream.

In it, I was sitting on an old, brown, metal folding chair, the kind my grandparents would bring out when company came. My mom was sitting next to me and it was obvious we were in a parklike, very green cemetery. The sun was shining and it felt so good to be with her.

She looked right at me and smiled. She told me I would be okay, that everything would be okay. I didn’t want the dream to end but at that moment, I woke up.

It was the middle of the night, the only light in our dorm room was from my brand-new-grad-gift fancy digital alarm clock.

I woke up from this dream that felt real and believed my mom was sitting at the edge of my bed.

KINDNESS. I whispered loudly.

KINDNESS!!!

“What, what?” she replied in a sleepy stupor.

Is my mom sitting at the edge of my bed?

 BIG MISTAKE

Big, big mistake.

Sweet Kindness let out a blood-curdling scream, jumped to her feet on top of her bed, and started screaming “Sweet Jesus, sweet, sweet Jesus!” as she rapidly clapped her hands to coincide with the run-jumping action of her body.

I scared poor Kindness to her bones.

Which then frightened me.

After I told her about my dream and that I felt certain my mom was actually there with me, it didn’t help her calm down at all. Not one bit.

Once we were settled back in to hopefully fall asleep again, I prayed to God: Okay God, that was pretty intense and really scary. I don’t know what that was, but maybe my mom shouldn’t come back like that again.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to undo that prayer in the decades since she has died. While she has been in my dreams, none were quite as vivid and spectacular as that first one. It came when I deeply needed reassurance.

Poor Kindness was more than happy to do a roommate swap at the upcoming semester break.

My mom sitting in our family room. I now see she was an example of my love of matching Gap sweatpants/sweatshirt combos.
Sitting in one of her favorite places in our house, doing one of her favorite things.

Mod Goes to College

It’s mid-August, 1988 and my dad’s Oldsmobile is packed and ready to deliver me to my freshman year of college. Our destination: Bradley University, University Hall, floor 4a, one of the coveted Dorms of the Future!

Yes, I drew the dorm lottery prize and that meant my room was equipped with a personal computer (PC if you’re in the know) for my roommate and me to share.

This was groundbreaking and really my first known foray into using computers. We certainly didn’t have one at home—who even did? Students were told to bring their own floppy disks and our lives would be infinitely simpler and… futuristic.

My roommate, whom I will call Kindness, and I were both from the suburbs of Chicago and hit it off when we met. She tolerated all of my Big Top Pee Wee cut-outs and brightly colored decor. I couldn’t take my rainbow room with me to college, but I could certainly bring the vibe.

Sorority Rush was the first week on campus. Bradley had six national sororities and I didn’t know much about any of them. My dad’s fraternity brothers from Bradley mostly married women from one specific house, and I did have that in mind.

I was assigned a Rush Counselor (Rho Chi) and spent the week attending various events at each house. At the end of every round, I would narrow down my choices, and the houses would narrow down theirs.

One house continually stood out to me because each time I walked in and met someone new, they were unique from the last person I met. While other houses seemed to have some sort of mold to fit, in my eyes Pi Beta Phi did not. They quickly rose to the top and I was hopeful I’d continue to be invited back.

Besides Rush happening that first week, my social life was taking quick form. Tammy lived just below me and her roommate, Staci, and I bonded along with some other new friends on both of our floors. By bonded, I mean we gathered together almost every night talking and drinking.

I was lucky that I was never cut from a house. I felt that the power to choose was in my court and I knew others weren’t so lucky. Each day, we’d get the news as to which houses invited us back. Every day, there were tears scattered throughout the dorm and campus in general. It was intense.

I was grateful for the distraction that it was. I found being alone almost intolerable. So, I constantly sought out other people to keep my mind anywhere but on the recent loss of my mom.

The night before the final found, the Preference Round, I overdid it.

Pref was a fancy dress-up day and if you were lucky, you got to go to two houses—one for lunch and one for dessert. I was excited to head first to the sorority of my dad’s friends’ wives and second to Pi Phi.

U-Hall had communal bathrooms. On that particular morning, I gathered up my yellow, personalized shower tote, robed up, and gingerly made my way down the hall to shower. I didn’t feel well at all.

Midway through my shower, I felt lightheaded. The next thing I knew, I was on the shower floor, the upper part of my body thrust outside of the curtain, rudely interrupting the primping of the other girls on my floor. There were a few screams.

Only one girl came over to help me. She had obviously been crying. She said she could help me because all of the sororities had cut her and she had nothing at all to do that day. Wow.

The next events were fuzzy. I got to the Health Center and it was assumed I’d fainted because of cramps. So, I was given a prescribed muscle relaxant. Have you seen the end of the movie Sixteen Candles? Where the bride takes muscle relaxants for cramps?

That was literally me.

Because of all of this, I missed the first sorority lunch. Thankfully, Pi Phi was second on the docket and my first choice. I would be more than ready and got dressed, hair done, make-up on… in a completely drugged state.

My mom taught me that early was better than late and even better than on time. It was raining. I grabbed my umbrella and set off across campus. Once at the house, I simply stood under my umbrella on the sidewalk.

I noticed no one was around. Apparently, there was a break between groups and I was really early. But no worries in my mind, I wanted to make a good impression. I was oblivious to the swishing of the vertical window blinds as curious eyes kept peering out at me.

I later learned that by standing solo, early to the party, I gave the impression that I was a rogue rushee who boldly chose only one house to attend on the final day. This created a big buzz.

Eventually, more girls showed up, I was feeling extremely groovy thanks to the muscle relaxant, and the party began. By the end of the night, I was welcomed into what I knew was the best sorority for me—Pi Beta Phi.

My pledge class, the night we all joined our sorority. Thankful for each of these women.

Final Preparations for College

Even though I still felt like I was moving through some sort of a grief fog, it was time to prepare for my freshman year at Bradley University. My dad was an alumnus and I know he was excited for me to attend.

Thankfully, my close friend Tammy was also heading there, and so were a few other high school friends. Tammy and I chose not to be roommates so we could meet other people and widen our circle.

It suddenly seemed like I had a lot to do in a very short period of time. I was completely clueless. One of my godmothers, my Aunt Carole, picked me up one day and took me to a wonderful store I had never heard of—Bed, Bath, & Beyond. Apparently, they would have everything a girl needs to head off to college.

Together we shopped, choosing bedding, towels, and a little caddy to carry my toiletries to the dorm bathroom. We filled a cart and enjoyed lunch out at a restaurant as well. It was really a wonderful day with one of my favorite people.

With my godmother in the early ’80s.

Within a few days after that, my dad and I went to visit my paternal grandfather at the nursing home where he lived. Grandpa was 88 years old and was not able to be at the funeral or visitation.

I was anxious about going to a nursing home after spending so much time in one with my mom. But, it was the right thing to go and visit and say goodbye to him before leaving soon for college.

We walked into his room and I know he was glad to have us there. My dad used an extra loud voice so he could hear him and told his dad that I came to visit before leaving for college in a few days.

Oh. Grandpa was having none of that. “What? College? No! She can’t go to college. She’s got to stay home and take care of you.”

“No dad, she will go to college. That’s the plan.”

My heart sank. Should I be going? Who would take care of my dad?

“It’s okay grandpa, dad will be fine. I need to go to college.”

Grandpa didn’t agree. Dad insisted. I sat with a crushed spirit and tentacles of panic started to grip my spirit.

My paternal grandparents.

Back at home, I began packing my things. I was heading off to actual college, majoring in Radio & TV. I had high hopes of becoming a game show host and this seemed the best path forward. In all honesty, I hadn’t given choosing a major much thought at all.

I was constantly ‘on’ and entertaining the people I was with. Radio & TV seemed to be the right fit. I was planning on auditioning for the choir, rushing a sorority, and immersing myself in the world of college.

My grief was raw but forward motion seemed to be the logical thing to do. So, I moved forward.

The Dude and I agreed that we would stay a couple but decided not to be totally exclusive. Well, I was ready to be exclusive. Are you kidding me? I finally had a boyfriend and he was pretty great. But, we were crazy realistic and weren’t in love so we said we’d stay together and see where things went.

He did agree that I would come home for his Homecoming dance. Finally. A date to a dance who wasn’t coerced, or bribed, in any way.

In a matter of days, I would be off to Bradley, settle into my dorm room in University Hall, and begin the process of sorority rush.

 

A Positive Distraction

Just a few days after the funeral, I got a phone call. It was The Dude.

“Babe! We’re back from vacation and it was great. I can’t wait to see you!” He was full of energy and excitement.

Oh. Um, did you get your mail by any chance?

“My dad just left to go to the post office to pick it up. Why? What’s up?”

I slid down the wall, clutching the phone close to my ear. I really wished he had gotten my letter before calling.

I wrote you a letter. Um… while you were gone… my mom died.

To his complete and total credit, The Dude gently wrapped up our call and was at my front door as quickly as his parent’s car would move him there.

I remember my extended family being in the house and really wishing I could have some serious privacy. Opening the front door, I just kind of fell into his arms and cried. I truly didn’t think I had any tears left. He was a trooper.

We walked to our living room, sat, and talked about all of it. I told him how his friends were amazing. They came to the visitation, and some were at the funeral. They made it a point to tell me they represented him and were supportive and kind to me.

The Dude was a great listener. I was glad to have him back home. I was also sad to be leaving him for college in less than two weeks.

With time fleeting, I wanted to have some last moments with friends. One night, a group of us got all dressed up and headed to a nice restaurant for dinner.

I didn’t know what to wear so I grabbed the blue dress from my mom’s funeral. It was comfy, stylish (yay shoulder pads!), and I completely and totally underestimated how it would make me feel to wear it again. In fact, it was the last time I ever wore it. I donated it soon after.

Dinner out felt grown up and fun and was a much-needed relief to the torrent of emotions I had been enduring. After dinner, the conversation turned to what we could do next to finish off the night. Someone suggested I call The Dude and see if we could hang out with him and his friends.

Wow, it hit me that I really did have a boyfriend and my friends wanted to hang out with him and his buddies. We connected and met up in someone’s backyard where there were more laughs.

It was a great night of distraction, friendship, and genuine fun. I was grateful for it all.

My dinner crew: August 1988. Reunion planned for December 2021.
I’ll call this one: Mod and The Dude

August 6, 1988

Growing up, United Lutheran Church was at the end of our little one-block street. We were members long before I was born and it truly felt like a second home to me. I’d grown up playing on the lawn, making imaginary homes under the canopy of the massive evergreens.

The side entrance that our family would walk to from our house, just up the block.

The layout inside is forever etched in my mind. The sanctuary was magnificent with a giant painting of Jesus over the front, side door, vibrant stained glass windows, dark pews, large pendant lights hanging above, and a bright and inviting chancel. Sunday School, church offices, and the gym were housed on the upper floors. The nursery was adjacent to the Luther League room with the Ladies Lounge next door, all on the lower level.

The larger-than-life painting of Jesus that I connected with every Sunday morning of my childhood.
Looking forward from under the painting of Jesus.
Magnificently bright chancel.

The Ladies Lounge was almost always where we could find my mom. This was a room before the restroom with couches and chairs. She’d be down having cigarettes with her friends and I’d often be dispatched to find her when it was time to head home.

I loved it in there, finding her and her friends in the throes of gossip, a haze of smoke covering the room. Always lots of laughter. My mom had strong bonds with her friends. Our church friends lived in the neighborhood, or very close by.

The day of the funeral was a heavy day, thick with emotion. I didn’t want this day to be real. Once the funeral happened, it felt like it finalized the fact that my mom was dead.

I went to church in an absolute fog of dread.

Our church sanctuary had two sections with a center aisle. As if assigned, our family always sat on the right side, in the second pew, slid over to the aisle. We were surrounded by the exact same families each week. As a child, I thought we had assigned seating.

They expected a full house for the funeral and because of the nature of the service, we sat in the first pew. I was very unsettled with this. Mom would have wanted us in the second pew, our pew. As a toddler, that’s where I ate her entire tube of red lipstick like a lollipop. That is right where I would always try to snuggle up to her because she had such a pretty singing voice, and always smelled so good.

I felt like an intruder sitting in the first pew.

Our family filed in, just my dad, sister, brother-in-law, brother, and me. I didn’t want to sit on the end and moved so I could be surrounded. This unsettled people. There was beautiful music and I could sense the place was packed although I never turned around.

The closed casket with the pig flower arrangement rested in front of us. My dad hoped to speak about my mom but the pastor was ready to stand in if he wasn’t able. The time came.

The emotions were too intense. Just moments after the pastor began, my dad stood, walked to the front, and bravely eulogized his bride.

I remember just crying and crying throughout the entire service. And when my dad spoke, he specifically mentioned how proud my mom was of me. He named every accomplishment that I was certain she missed. My sadness took on a whole new level.

She saw me.

Through everything she endured, she did see me. I thought I was literally going to fall to pieces. The soloist sang Amazing Grace which lulled me into a calmness, enveloped in deep sadness, that is hard to describe.

As the service ended, the casket was rolled back up the aisle, and we were prompted to stand and follow it out.

I didn’t know this. How could I stand? How could I walk?

As I stood and turned, I saw all of the sad faces looking at us, at me. I couldn’t bear it. My dad put his arm around my shoulder and guided me forward. I was crying so hard that I couldn’t see. I swerved into a pew on the left and my dad righted me.

I was a crying mess and now I was so embarrassed.

I blinked back my tears, straightened up, and proceeded forward with some deep gulps of air. At the end of the church, the casket was put in a hearse and driven away for cremation.

Watching the hearse drive south on Ridgeland Avenue, watching my mom being forever driven away provoked such a feeling of despair as if my very breath was being taken away. I was exhausted but now we were expected to go to the fellowship hall for a light reception.

Seriously? I just wanted to walk home and go to sleep. But I guess it was good to see how many people knew and cared for my mom, my dad, and our family. That neighbor from Lenox Street looked me right in that eye and said he told me the funeral would be worse. He was right.

As the day wound down, my dad told my cousin Julie to take the pig flowers from the casket because she also collected pigs. She was crying and nodding and couldn’t easily speak as she gathered it up in her arms.

At 18 years old, two weeks from starting my freshman year at Bradley University, August 6, 1988, was absolutely the hardest day of my entire life.

We would come together in a few months to bury her ashes.

Entrance on Ridgeland Ave. where the casket would be carried down the stairs and the hearse would drive my mom away.

 

 

Unexpected Turn

The night took a turn I didn’t expect. Thank God my friends stayed with me. My extended family left the funeral home. Then my dad and sister said they were going out together for dinner with a group of friends. My brother was going out with his friends.

What? Our family wasn’t staying together for the rest of the night?

For all of the plans that had been determined in the past two days, how had no one thought of what would happen when the visitation ended? Or had they?

How were people considering leaving each other? What was I supposed to do?

I was the last to leave the building with my two friends, Tammy and Allison. We went to New Star Inn for Chinese food and then decided to stop by a house party being hosted by whom I will call, “Nice Guy Whose Party I Nearly Ruined”.

Oh my gosh. Poor Nice Guy. We weren’t really friends but he was part of the greater group of guys I spent time with the previous summer as part of The Pact. We rang the bell and when Poor Nice Guy opened the door, his face could not hide the fact that he knew my mom had died and her visitation was that same day.

He let us in with a Poor Nice Guy smile, and as we walked through the house I left my body again. Heads turning, staring, so many friends that came to the visitation were there at the party. I thought it was weird they were all still in their dress-up-visitation clothes but had lost all concept of time so who knows when I saw them at the funeral home.

I kept moving through the house and made it outside to the back porch. I now knew it was a huge mistake to come. I couldn’t breathe. I felt sorry for bringing sadness to Poor Nice Guy’s party. I wanted my two friends to be able to have some fun after spending a long, hard day with me.

I stood on the porch in a literal daze.

Some of my Orchesis dance friends bounced up, totally unaware of my loss just days prior.

“Oh my gosh, Mod, you look so pretty!”

“Why are you all dressed up?”

I…um… I came from a visitation.

 I looked around, literally gasping for air.

“Oh my God, who died???”

Um… my mom.

 I knew I had to get the hell out of there before I completely fell apart. I raced inside, found my friends, and they drove me home.

They dropped me off in the driveway and I let myself in the front door with my key.

I was the first one home.

The house was totally empty.

The smell of lilies assaulted my nose, stifling my ability to breathe yet again.

It was all too much. I raced through the house, up the stairs, and to the shelter of my bedroom sanctuary.

Allison and Tammy, age 18, and perhaps the greatest examples of what it means to simply be there for a friend.