Saturday, August 29, 2009

Lucia (Loosha)

Do you remember those people you were mean to in elementary school? I do. Facebook reminds me every day one of them adds me as a friend.

I go "Really? They want to add me? Clearly it's just to laugh at how fat I am post baby ((I was really REALLY thin back then)) because they can't possibly want to be friends with me".

But they are.

And we're friends.

And I start to go "Hey, why WEREN'T we best friends back then? Why didn't I like you like I do now?"

One of those people is Lucia.

Lucia had the extreme Quailwood Elementary School disadvantage of having a name the substitute teachers couldn't pronounce. "Looo-see-uh?" and we'd all giggle and go "It's LOOSHA!" Lucia even took to spelling her name that way on Myspace and Facebook as, I assume, a joke on the fact that nobody (probably ever in her life) had pronounced her name correctly on the first try.

I can't remember any specific instances of being mean to her or making fun of her or just being a pain in the ass, but I have a vague recollection.

I have always been a steppenwolf.

I have always been too judgemental.

I got in trouble with another girl once for writing mean things about a girl named Leah on some leaves that collected in our classroom. Leah had the unfortunate Quailwood Elementary School disadvantage of having red hair.

Lucia and I just weren't friends, really.

And then on Myspace we became friends and she announced she was crocheting (knitting? I honestly don't know the difference, but whatever -- yarn and some type of needle) these blankets because she had stopped smoking and was trying to keep herself busy by doing something with her hands. So, she took up knitting (or was it crocheting?)

So I was pregnant and ordered a blanket in neutral colors of green and off-white and she sent it and it was beautiful. And it had lots and lots of cat hairs in it from all the cats she's adopted.

Please don't think "crazy cat lady" think "kind, loving, gentle". That is what she is. She is genuine, sincere, earnest. And I think she only has 2 or 3 cats. She has the kind of upfront honesty and kindness I wish I had, but even when I try, my reactions are always too sarcastic. Too biting. Not nice.

I smiled when I saw the little black hairs entwined with the off-white yarn and I thought about Lucia giving up smoking to make that blanket for my unborn baby, with her cats on her sofa sitting next to her.

I think it cost us about $30.

I am going to keep it forever.

I don't remember when Lucia announced on Myspace that her dad had been diagnosed with Leukemia, but she posted several messages about it letting everyone know the status of chemo and treatment and hospitals and what was going on.

Again, the upfront honesty just struck home for me. It takes so much for me to be honest and forthcoming on this blog. I have to really push myself. It's why I keep this blog. I want to make this personal and about me and interesting. I want to be more like Lucia. More willing to share.

So tonight when my best friend the surgeon (also from Quailwood Elementary School) sent me a text message telling me that Lucia's dad had died and to cherish life while we have it, I nearly had to pull over to cry.

Being a parent make you think so much and feel so much more about the inter-connectedness of us all.

Why was I mean to Lucia in elementary school? Why weren't we better friends? What did her dad think, knowing he was going to die and leave his children without his strength? What will her mom do without her husband of, oh I don't know, 40 years (?)

I have been listening to Taylor Swift lately and -- don't knock it -- it's really good. And one of her songs is called something like "The Best Day" and it's about how the best days she had were the ones spent with her dad.

And I thought about Lucia being in elementary school and my being a jerk. And I thought about her relationship with her dad and how maybe she tried to tell him about how shitty junior high was (it was for everyone, right?) and he comforted her. And I thought about Lucia trying to describe her dad to her own children someday. How can you sum up the life of a parent in a few anecdotes?

It goes so much deeper.

I know I'm not going to go to the funeral or anything, or send flowers or anything like that. I just don't have that kind of closeness with her. I would have to ask for her address to send a card and that's awkward because she's mourning and how can I send someone a Facebook message and ask for her address after her dad just died?

But driving home from work tonight, I spent a lot of time thinking about the dynamics of our relationships. And how those relationships are encouraged through social media -- Facebook, blogs, Twitter. And how even 20 years later, I can think back to being in elementary school with Lucia and find out what day her dad died and from what and feel closer to her than I ever had before.

Why weren't we friends back then? What prevented it?

My heart aches for Lucia and her mom and her brother tonight. I know they are relieved that her dad is no longer in pain. I know leukemia is a debilitating disease. I know Lucia is with her mom and there must be this huge emptiness where there used to be the enormous cheshire grin of her dad. The grin Lucia inherited from him.

I also know how moments like this make me feel, always wanting for the right thing to say.

I never saw anything from Lucia anytime in her life that indicated sadness, or pessimism or doubt. And I guess that is all I could wish for myself.

That I could have the upfront honesty and sincere optimism of Lucia.

And that she and her family know that they are in the prayers of many people tonight.

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