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What Endures

August 10, 2009

Heavy northern autumn sky
Mist-hung forest — Dark spruce, bright maple —
And the great lake rolling forever to the narrow gray beach

I look west along the red road of the frail sun
To where it hovers between shelf of cloud and spiky trees,
Receding shore;

The world is full of seasons; of anguish, of laughter
And it comes to mind to write you this:

Nothing is sure
Nothing is pure
And no matter who we think we are
Everybody gets a chance to be nothing

Love’s supposed to heal, but it breaks my heart to feel
The pain in your voice —
But you know, it’s all going somewhere
And I would crush my heart and throw it in the street
If I could pay for your choice

Isn’t that what friends are for?
Isn’t that what friends are for?

We’re the insect life of paradise:
Crawl across leaf or among towering blades of grass
Glimpse only sometimes the amazing breadth of heaven

You’re as loved as you were
Before the strangeness swept through
Our bodies, our houses, our streets —
When we could speak without codes
And light swirled around like
Wind-blown petals,
At our feet

I’ve been scraping little shavings off my ration of light
And I’ve formed it into a ball, and each time I pack a bit more onto it
I make a bowl of my hands and I scoop it from its secret cache
Under a loose board in the floor
And I blow across it and I send it to you
Against those moments when
The darkness blows under your door

Isn’t that what friends are for?
Isn’t that what friends are for?
Isn’t that what friends are for?

Bruce CockburnIsn’t That What Friends Are For?

Choo Choo Christmas

Choo Choo Christmas

I don’t make friends all that easily. But the ones I do make, the true friends, seem to stick with me forever.

You know how you can vividly remember stupid little moments in your life? For example, there are times when I’ll be right back at the Smart Bar in the basement of Cabaret Metro ordering a Bud Dry at the bar while the guy next to me smokes a clove cigarette and smells of patchouli. “Everyday is Halloween” by Ministry is playing and asymmetrical haircuts are not silly, but the order of the day.

Ta Da!!

Ta Da!!

Back in 1976 or 77, I remember being over at Mitch’s house with Kenny. There was a picture of him playing guitar in white pants that had blue inserts to make them bell bottoms stuck on a cork board and a picture of an astronaut he’d painted hung on the wall. He got a phone call and for some reason asked Kenny to pick it up. Kenny informed us that it was an obscene phone call and I, being the impulsive youth that I was, immediately took the phone from Kenny and asked something stupid like, “would you like to meet somewhere” or “what are you wearing” or some such nonsense. Whereupon the caller immediately hung up on me. And that my friends, was the very first interaction I had with my dear friend Annette. 🙂

30+ years have passed since that day and Annette and I became fast friends. Net has been fighting medical battles in the past few years and in mid July passed away. As you can imagine, it wasn’t a high point in my summer.

Whoa! Snowflakes!!

Whoa! Snowflakes!!

There’s no way to capture more than 30 years of friendship in a simple blog post, so I won’t even try. Every time I’ve thought about what to write, I come up with a new memory. The fourth of July party out at Net’s when we were blasting Yothu Yindi across the fields of Iowa. The Thanksgiving in Austin when we all explored the cave and spotted the hole in the ceiling for the bat poles. Net singing “Butch” in the band Windstar at the Wagon Wheel. Singing Christmas carols at Jervis’ every Christmas eve. Kimber’s evil Jack Russell named Heddy, who likes maybe 4 people in the entire world, immediately crawling up and going to sleep on Net when he first met her. There’s just no place to begin. At the end of the day though, isn’t that the point? I don’t really care about how she died, that’s eclipsed by all the memories I have of her actually living.

Net and the Gregs

Net and the Gregs

All those things you could say about your close friends apply here, she had a huge personality, she was incredibly talented, she was funny…. But so many of the memories I have of her involve my other friends as well. And if I’m going to talk about loss, this is where it applies the most. C. S. Lewis says in his book “The Four Loves”, “In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole (person) into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all (their) facets. Now that Charles is dead, I shall never again see Ronald’s reaction to a specifically Caroline joke. Far from having more of Ronald, having him ‘to myself’ now that Charles is away, I have less of Ronald.”

With a bow on top

With a bow on top

That’s where I’m at now. Not only have I lost my dear friend Annette, but I’ve lost all those things she brought out in all the friends we shared. I don’t think one of us who were home for her service got through that week without wanting to either call her up or go over to her house or ask her about something only to realize that she wasn’t there anymore. Things will be different for us and we’ll continue to feel her absence in little ways. From missing her soprano voice at Christmas or her 12 string accompaniment when the musicians among us get together to simply not having her house to hang out in when we head back to the home town.

I suppose it’s the nature of life to grow then fade and at half a century, I should start to realize this. To quote another poet from Britain “things fall apart; the centre cannot hold”. While I realize that Annette’s passing isn’t as apocalyptic as the second coming, it will still leave a hole in my life that will never be filled. But when my friends and I get together and tell a story about that time when Net came over and… the memories will endure.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Marcy Meythaler permalink
    August 13, 2009 7:24 am

    Thank you for sharing your memories with those of us that were not so lucky to have known Annette as long. I knew her for less than a year and I feel blessed for that short time. I miss her everyday.

  2. Mick Stohr permalink
    August 11, 2009 5:53 pm

    Thanks for giving us yet another memory of our friend. The hole in our lives must now be filled by those wonderful memories of her. Heaven is now a better place.

  3. August 11, 2009 8:03 am

    You’ve expressed some beautiful sentiments and loving feelings here. Thank you for sharing 🙂

  4. Edith Rankin permalink
    August 11, 2009 6:48 am

    I know the five of you were great friends and for a
    lot of years. One needs family but you also need
    friends and you were close friends. I, too, will
    miss Annette. She was a great and talented girl.
    What a nice tribute to her.

  5. Mary Jo permalink
    August 11, 2009 5:47 am

    What a great tribute for such a special friend. It was nice at the hospital to finally be able to put faces to the names Annette told me so many stories about. I hate that it was under these circumstances. I only knew Annette for two years and wish I had the lifetime of memories you have of her. She was such a talented ,funny, intelligent woman. I miss my good friend every day and catch myself wanting to send her a text or call to see how she is doing. She will always be in my heart.

  6. Karen Lischer permalink
    August 11, 2009 4:50 am

    What a lovely tribute to a lovely woman. I was so nice to finally meet you at Annette’s memorial. I see why she spoke so fondly of you. Thank you for including me in your send to: list. She indeed was so talented and so much fun to be with. She will be missed but never forgotten.

  7. Jill permalink
    August 10, 2009 9:19 pm

    Nice. Very nice indeed.

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