My friend Michele joined the club yesterday. It's a club nobody wants to join but can't avoid. Michele's Mother died yesterday. Her Mom was only 58. Which means she had to have been pretty young when her daughter made her debut on this planet.
I have known Michele for-what?-15 years or so by now. I first met her when I allegedly assisted her and DOJ's Environmental Defense Section in a couple of wetlands cases back in the late Nineties. A tall thin Nebraskan, we hit it off immediately primarily over our shared love of beer and sports. She and I have kept up over the years. This is despite the fact that she thinks I should go vegan like her. And she"s kind of a pain in the ass about it.
My favorite story-or one of them anyway- about her is when the devastating tornadoes came through downtown Little Rock in 2002 or so. She called me the first thing the morning after to see if I was OK. I assured her that I was fine and I told her how much I appreciated the call.
"I lived in a trailer park when I was little," she said, "I know how scary tornadoes can be."
While it is true that only in America can a person go from a trailer park to the Department of Justice, it is equally true that Michele's trip was made easier by the loving example of her Mom.
She talked about her Mom a lot. Which brings me to another Michele story. She approved of my participation in Miracle League which for the uninitiated is a baseball league for disabled people. Michele's mom coached her softball team.
"Heck," she told me. Like I said, she is from Nebraska. She says "heck" a lot. "We had disabled kids on the team. Mom insisted on letting them play." Which was pretty unusual twenty something years ago.
This is an interesting time of life. More of my friends are now joining me in the club as we say farewell to our parents. I have recently said goodbye to one of my best friends. There will be others as year succeeds to year as the old hymn goes.
They say losing a Mother is the hardest. I don't know about that. That may be romantic nonsense. Losing my Mom was not traumatic in the sense that my mother suffered greatly. Death put an end to that. And our relationship, especially in the last 10 years of her life, was that of guardian-ward as much as anything. So I don't miss her as a parent or as a companion. But I find myself thinking of her from time to time. And I still kick myself over some ways that I feel that I did not serve her as well as I might have. I don't think that will ever end. At least not until they stick my earthly remains in the wall at the Methodist church down the road.
It will be far harder on Michele. I don't know what happened but her Mother's death was unexpected. And she didn't just lose a parent. She lost a young Mother, her best friend and "everyone's 2nd Mom" as she put it on Facebook. One doesn't easily get over that level of heartbreak. Not easily at all.
I tried to call her but the message went to voice mail. The text that followed a little later said, " Plane just landed and got your voice mail. Will be in touch soon. I love you too."
You know where to find me Honey. And welcome-I guess- to the club. You can come sit right here by me. I want to hear more stories about your Mom.