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?
I am so sorry to hear about your friend. My prayers are with her family.
I know what you are talking about wanting to do more with Mike and the family. That is how I feel about my boyfriend and family too. I have a three month old granddaughter I would love to see more than I do. When something like this happens it makes you look more at what you are doing with your own life.
I'm sorry for your loss, Linda. Too early - so young!
I am sorry for the loss of your friend. I lost my best friend (a brother, really) some years back and it was devastating. I been out of it lately, blogging wise and it's good to be back.
Love your humor: my favorite beer is my third.
A happy Christmas to you.
Ruben (by way of Debbie's blog -- Venting)
That is SO SAD. I'm so sorry my friend. But I must tell you that though this unexpected and sudden death is causing you to reflect on your life, I can tell you that you do DO so much to uplight people by your writing and your comedy and making people LAUGH. The other day I was telling a friend about your book and she just busted out laughing at the title ... BASTARD HUSBAND. Swear. I had to wait until she finished her fit of laughter to continue. Now is the time when things can start to go wrong. The 50's, 60's ... hell, just having made it to middle age is amazing! We weren't killed in a car accident or a terrible illness. We reached middle age, so many don't.
Well my friend, thinking of you and wishing you the BEST XMAS EVER.
I'm very sorry to hear about the loss of your friend. It is indeed sad.
I'm just going to say this out loud.
Are you sure being on the road so much for your job is a good thing?
Times like these often present an opportunity to think about the extent to which we are ready for our own deaths....sounds morbid, but it use to be "stunning" when a contemporary died, as I was into my thirties it was "shocking", in my forties, it's "surprising", before long it's going to be "sad" and "he lived a good life". Death of a contemporary often presents a chance to re-examine whether we would be ready for what happens after we die.
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