For Emo…

June 4, 2010

I’ve never written about her.  I don’t talk about it much.  But today I got overwhelmed with some things I need to tell the world about someone who was my best friend.  Someone who I just clicked with when we met – one of those special someones that you know with absolute certainty will change your life.  I would have done anything for this woman, she was that special.

Emo had Cystic Fibrosis.  I had heard little snippets of whispers about her while growing up.  “She’s the one that’s dying.”  We went to separate high schools, but we still live in a fairly small town, and I knew who she was.  And that she was “dying.”  Knowing more beyond that happened later, when the overlapping of friends brought about getting to know each other.  The first phone call turned into a baring of souls and the beginning of a deep, deep friendship.

Emo was NOT dying.  She was living.  Every minute of every day she experienced.  She was the most genuinely funny person I had ever met.  God, we laughed.  Loudly, obnoxiously and often. There was very little she wasn’t up for, which was intoxicating.  She was also stunningly beautiful, which made her thrill-seeking all the more hilarious.  Nothing like seeing someone who looked like a Vogue model chewing tobacco!!  Or cussing like a trucker.  But somehow it was never tacky or vulgar on her – she was just enchanting and daring and courageous and fun.  She was the best.  She wanted to try it all and experience it all and enjoy it all. 

Emo died on May 18th, 1992 at 31 years of age.  The disease she had had since she was a few months old had finally claimed her.  I will never be the same.  You can’t lose someone like her and ever get over it totally.  She was one of a kind.  But my mom said it best when she told me that most people never get to have a friend like her in their whole life – and I had her for 12 years. And I got to say goodbye and tell her I loved her..again, something a lot of people never get the chance to do.

My daughter is named Emily after her.  I tell my children all the time how much she would have loved them.  She would have adored them because they are unique and special, just like she was.  I wish she was here to experience them, because she would have been such a marvelous inspiration to them.  And they would have loved her, too.  I feel bad that they never got to know her.  I feel bad for anyone who didn’t get to know her.

Two weeks to the day after Emo died I lost my first child to a miscarriage in the 14th week of pregnancy.  After just losing Emo, I didn’t know how I could ever survive.  But I did – my daughter Emily came a year later, and somehow the vision of Emo holding my baby in Heaven healed me.  Emo had desperately wanted a family but was not healthy enough, so it offered great comfort to me that I could give Emo what she had wanted – a child – and I had the comfort of knowing she and the baby we named Jordan would be waiting for me when I got to Heaven.  Two years later I had another late miscarriage and Emo’s family grew as mine grew.  Now we each have two children, which somehow feels right, even though I feel such loss in their daily presence in my life. 

I wish I never lost sight of the perspective I had when she was alive.  When she was alive and for years after she was gone I would constantly run through my head “Emo wouldn’t care about an extra 10 pounds if she had healthy lungs…Emo would survive a broken heart and flourish if she had a healthy body…”  when something went wrong. I lived better then – I lived like I was “dying” also, because I had the gift of her perspective on life to give me perspective on mine.  I really miss that, and it is harder to hold on to now that she’s gone.

I have really felt her absence since my divorce.  She would have helped so much.  She would have cried with me and then kicked my butt around for feeling sorry for myself too long.  She would have dragged me back into life.  She would have eventually made life into a grand adventure again.

Today I started thinking about the story “I Am Third” about Gayle Sayers and Brian Piccolo. Gayle Sayers lost his best friend and gave this tearjerking speech about how God was First, Brian Piccolo was Second, and “I Am Third.”   When that came into my mind today, I started to cry because I had never made a speech like that about Emo.  And I’m not famous, with national television cameras pointed at me.  But we do have the Internet now, and I do have this blog.  Today I needed to write about her.  I feel like I want to write more about her – get all the stories down before I forget them and they are gone forever.  I want other people to get to know Emo and for her never to be forgotten.

The girl who was not “dying,” but who was living.

I miss you, Em.  So much.

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