Last Sunday on my way to the Orlando airport I got a voicemail from my college roommate and dear friend Patty. "I have sad news," she said. As I called her back, I knew it wasn't good. Our friend Mary Ellen, one of the girls in our circle at Plattsburgh State, had passed away that morning.
Many of my friends from the crazy Plattsburgh years are from around Albany, where I grew up. Patty, Mary Ellen, Margaret, and Chris went to an all-girls Catholic high school together in Schenectady, just outside of Albany. We all returned to the area after getting our degrees, so it's been easy for everyone to keep in touch and we try to get together whenever I'm back in town. I think the last time I saw Mary Ellen was in April at a happy hour party. Yep, the Plattsburgh crew certainly knows how to party--that's one thing we never grew out of.
A bunch of us got together up in the Adirondacks in September 2010 while I was back east; I blogged about it here. The September gathering is an annual event; I didn't make it this past year, but Patty told me Mary Ellen was there and had mentioned that she was having back pain. Well, a lot of people have back pain, right? But I guess on December 8 Mary Ellen was diagnosed with cancer and on the morning of the 18th she was gone. She was 53 and had two kids, one of whom is a student at Plattsburgh.
The wake and funeral service are tonight and how I wish I could be there with my friends. That's the only thing that sucks about being on the other side of the country, so far away from so many people I love.
This is really hitting me. It's weird. Mike and I often lament that we have only about 40 years left together, and that's a pretty optimistic scenario. That's not enough! There's so much we want to do.
Life is so fragile and not to get all cliche on you, but I really do try to live life to the fullest. Still, I think I can do better. I want to do something that's going to make a difference, something important and of service to others. I know my book has helped and/or entertained a lot of people, but I want to do more. I want to have more fun, spend more time with people I love, take some freakin' time to exercise, do more comedy, travel more with Mike, take some trips with the kids, visit my mother in Boise more, see more live music, sit down and read a freakin' book for once, and have some kind of positive impact on others.
Mary Ellen's death--I can't believe it--death!--is making me take a good hard look at how I'm spending my time. I've done the soul searching part; now it's time to strategize. Changes are coming, and what better time to get things rolling?