It seems with greater frequency I am telling the story of fallen comrades. “We are of an age,” I am told, though that offers little comfort. When someone leaves us in our youth, the shock is severe, the heartache suffocating, but it was rare, thankfully, and we were observers of tragedy. But as we age, the tragedy is lessened though the loss as great, and we can’t explain away the shock as we once could. And when a friend from our youth departs suddenly now, the voice reminding us of our own mortality is loud, the finger pointing at us, reminding us that days are not guaranteed and there are fewer ahead than behind.
A friend from my youth has taken her leave. Marcy “is away”, as my grandmother said, as if a gate has been swung open and she has been allowed passage through, to somewhere we are not allowed to go with her. She makes the journey on her own timing, pausing, I like to think, to bid us farewell, her hand raised in acknowledgment. “All is well,” she is saying, telling us not to worry, instead urging us to “seize the day”.
I don’t remember when Marcy and I became friends. What I mean is, I don’t remember the moment. We were just friends, our paths having collided at volleyball at Fort High, I think. Where I was shy, Marcy was bold. Where I was hesitant, Marcy was certain. I went with her family to the Minnesota State Fair one summer. I am not sure they needed another body in their family car, but I was made welcome. Marcy, Lori, Julie, and I hit many, if not most of the rides in the midway until the contents of our tummies threatened rebellion, the Zipper being the most terrifying. Marcy and I bought matching t-shirts with a plasticized iron-on that said “LOVE”. We were happy to be twins. Before we both could drive, I rode my bike from the farm into town to Marcy’s house in the east end of Scott Street, wishing she lived in the west end. Her mom made strawberry Freshie, always a jug in her green refrigerator with the freezer on the bottom she could open with her foot, as if by magic, the Freshie always chilled and ready. Pre-made hamburgers from Filmore’s were often on the menu and Mrs. Boyd made them delicious. Mrs. Boyd was kind beyond kind, always ready to reach out and gather “her girls” in for safety and comfort. I got to be one of her girls when I stayed over, her arms encircling me without me having to ask.
Marcy was a water-baby, as comfortable swimming as she was walking, a passion that fed her throughout her life, I think. She adored her sisters, mothered them, wanted to shelter and protect them, while leading by example.
Time has a way of creating gaps between our lives as we age, the distance too great to hold the connection, but we are never severed from those days of youthful joy, those days while we were busy occupied in a state of “becoming”. I can still see Marcy with Dippity-do on her bangs, scotch tape holding them in place. I can hear her start up her beast of a car from behind the house, with access from the alley. We are still camping and frying up Filmore hamburgers, the pan snapping and spitting, the fire moving as if alive. She is in her kayak now, paddling forward, glancing over her shoulder to say “see ya’ later”. All we can do is wave back and be glad for what she left us to hold on to.