love notes to my sister’s friends.

May 9, 2010

maya had eye surgery on thursday morning. god it was daunting to watch my daughter being rolled away on a surgical bed in to the operating room at cedars sinai. her lanky frame was much too tiny for that bed, and her eyes were too big as ricky and i assured her that we would see her very soon and that there would be cookies and juice and getting spoiled by the nurses as dr. wright had promised at the pre-op appointment the week before. an hour later it was all over and we were sitting next to her in recovery as she slept, and this sudden whoosh of feeling scared and relieved and impossibly in love with this sleeping bundle of all things gorgeous and complicated (that is maya, no way around it. intense and delicious and thank god i am hers and she is mine) moved through my body and then suddenly, exhaustion took over.

this isn’t the first whoosh of emotion to hit in these past weeks and months, but it has been the one hanging out there in front of me as The Scary Moment Coming Up. and it’s not just my whoosh; many people around me have been in and on this same swirl. i wrote some time ago – a year, maybe? – about losing friends. people uprooting their lives and families for something better or more compelling somewhere else. friends in different moments of their lives than me, and therefore, our fit no longer…well, fitting. school and work and love pulling people i adore towards something, and away from me. but these recent losses, of friends and traditions and history and ideas, these are different losses. things haven’t just taken a vacation, they are gone. irrevocably, undeniably gone. and there is a shimmer, a vibration, a sort of resonance that is clanging silently for a handful of us who are left in the open, quiet space that is their absence.

i hung up the phone moments ago with my sister. this is the sister that rises far and beyond what is expected and common, to give to the people in her life; me most especially, as i am her one true sister. loreen spent the past four or five months caring for her best friend, peggy, who had been battling cancer for two years and who lost that fight in april. loreen had minutes and hours and days to be with peggy and to find peace and quietude within the fact that peg would only be here with us on earth for a short time more. the service for peggy took place a few weeks ago, and amongst a handful, loreen was one who spoke about peggy and her extraordinary presence in this world and in our lives. loreen summarized and encapsulated and handed to those of us listening her perfect take on peggy’s shine and shimmer as a friend, wife, amazing mom to her amazing kids, sister, and daughter. opening, loreen took a moment to mention the freshman-year kiss to peggy’s boyfriend at a party that led to their friendship, and noted how often peg and loreen have thought to thank tim corey for being a fifteen year old romeo. their friendship happened because of it.

tim corey died a few hours ago. those moments ago with loreen on the phone are the same moments she received an email from tim’s brother. her voice disappeared and came back, and loreen read the email out loud so we both got the news in the same moments. an aneurysm, tim doing okay, a turn for the worse, and his own choice today to be taken off a ventilator with the knowledge his body would not survive without it. loreen is sideswiped, needed to make calls, catch her breath, sit in another layer of loss. i am here, in my quiet house, wishing i were with her and wondering where this writing will go, how i will pull together what i originally intended as i sat down, before my call with loreenie, to write about loss, and discovery.

i don’t know where to go except to the church courtyard at peggy’s funeral three weeks ago. the sun was out all day but it was soft, and there was a breeze, and the courtyard itself was filled with people and trees, so the light was filtered and dappled and forgiving. there were so many people there, gathered to celebrate peggy’s life and grieve her death. many faces i didn’t recognize. there were familiar ones that at some point had made up part of the landscape of a younger life, yet i was at a loss for names and intersections beyond having grown up in the same small town. but there in the middle of it all, like ropes of twinkle lights or christmas tree ornaments, were the faces i have known for years but not seen in so many. my sister’s friends. the ones that sparkle like peggy sparkled, showed me kindness, love, disdain, possibilities of different paths, and the strength of women. i felt fifteen, but for moments only, and suddenly, in the church, with my parents and sister close by, and one of my own dearest childhood friends a breath away, i was clearly my 45 year old self. with my own sparkle and scars and stories but most importantly, the recognition of loved faces filling mine and i can only imagine bouncing back to theirs. so large was the joy i felt.

i asked inappropriate questions. horrifically so. do you make hoards of money doing what you do? how is it to have been with one person for so many years? did divorce knock you down in the way i imagine it might knock me down? i wanted to say: i heard so many years ago that your husband, my friend, had my handwriting analyzed, and it kept me from you. or, i wanted to be part of your life that was about family before my life was about family, and yet i wasn’t invited and didn’t know how to enter, and i have missed you. these thoughts fluttered like butterflies for just a moment, and disappeared as the bigger questions pushed them aside. questions to ask about the path chosen: whether it had boded well, been fortuitous, brought joy, experience, wisdom? have you woven a fabric that supports you as i am working so hard to do to support maya?

suddenly, the bigger questions disappeared also. maybe they joined the fluttering butterflies in another garden. what remained, not in their shadows but in the bright faces full of beauty and experience and their own questions, was, simply, love. unbridled, non-judgmental, love. it could be different, i know that. being a little sister gives you a sort of backstage pass, at least while you are little. you are loved by default, or proxy, and it is a place of pure privilege, a sort of big girl’s secret garden. but it doesn’t always remain as such. we all grow older and make choices, things can land that clutter a clear path. the path to my sister’s friends was lined with sunshine, and then i was gone, for so many years, and the path was gone too.

that saturday, in the courtyard, in the visceral wake of peggy’s death, was for me a moment to see how circular our road traveled can end up being. the world is starlight-deprived without peggy here, and learning about tim tonight alongside my sister filled me with her pain and my own. we can turn our heads and in one moment, everything can change. my beautiful friend meredith, who was in a terrible accident just days after peggy died, has fought tooth and nail, literally, to be here, alive. we don’t know ever when the journey will end. and so again, i am reminded of the gift that is, simply, being here. people are gone, yet people remain. i want my path to cross your path as often as possible, to soak in your beautiful faces and listen to your voices and revisit history and laugh and rejoice and grieve and celebrate this weaving road built of winding paths. while i am here, i want that.

Advertisements

5 Responses to “love notes to my sister’s friends.”

  1. Betsy Says:

    Happy Mother’s Day
    thank you for sharing your heart…
    i love you…betsy

  2. Soph Says:

    this took me to a place i know well yet too often can’t find. it will help me move forward with more softness and joy. thank you for this most lovely piece. xo

  3. ALANA Says:

    I READ THIS LATE LAST NIGHT FROM MY IPHONE..AS MY AMBIEN WAS KICKING IN..TRIED TO RESPOND, AND THOUGHT BETTER OF IT! WOW KERRI LYNN..HOW BEAUTIFUL IS YOUR EXPRESSION. I HAD A TINGE OF GUILT, FEELING SO MUCH LOVE IN THAT COURTYARD..AND THEN BEYOND SUNSET AT THE STURGIS’ HOME. BUT I THINK THAT’S WHAT WE WOULD ALL WANT IF WE WERE PEGGY. I CERTAINLY WOULD FEEL SOME SENSE OF SUPERNATURAL POWERS IF I COULD CONTINUE TO INFLUENCE PEOPLE, BRING RELATIONSHIPS TOGETHER, NEW AND REKINDLED, AFTER I HAD PHYSICALLY PASSED THRU LIFE ON EARTH. THANKS YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING WITH ME. I LOVE YOU.

  4. gail simmons Says:

    Happy Mother’s Day to you. I am not a mother but reading this piece, as an older friend, sister, makes me want to hold you with your head on my lap and stroke your head and sing to you while you fall asleep.
    Love you K,
    Gail

  5. June Says:

    Thank you for your words about the beauty of life, sometimes fleating. I’m again amazed by your strength. I need to call you this week to send good wished to you at this hard time. I hope you had a Happy Mother’s Day!! Love, June


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: