Raising a Glass

Last night I poured myself a Guinness and toasted the memory of my dear friend, Julie.

Smart, funny, caring Julie. She embodied love and laughter, and she lived a beautiful, yet all too brief, life, leaving this world on Saturday morning at the age of 63.

Not long after Studly Doright and I moved to Tallahassee, I went to work part time for an educational research group at Florida State University. My job was to implement lessons designed by educational researchers and at the end of the year, administer diagnostic tests to children at several local elementary schools.

At one of these schools I was working in a room with this woman who just had a way about her. She wore flowy dresses and always had a smile. The children in her groups adored her, and she never had to raise her voice. They just wanted to make Miss Julie happy. Heck, after awhile we ALL just wanted to make Miss Julie happy.

Julie and I became friends. Occasionally she’d come out to Doright Manor, and we’d walk and talk. Her stories were fascinating. She and her very British mum had once lived in Alaska and owned a tea room there. She knew all sorts of interesting people and cultivated great friendships with folks from all walks of life.

After I stopped working for the research group, Julie and I saw each other less often, but we kept in touch via Facebook and text. She invited me along to movies and concerts and we had lunch together several times. I always knew she was “right there” if I needed a friend, and I hope she knew that about me, too.

Julie was the kind of person who’d drop everything and take off cross country to care for an ailing friend. The kind of person who’d show up to listen to a friend (me) tell one of my silly stories in a public venue, and laugh louder than anyone. And oh, what a lovely laugh!

Julie was the kind of person whose door was always open and whose heart was filled with love for people and the planet. I’d never really known a true earth mother until I met Julie, and I’m so much richer for having had her in my life.

Our very last conversation was on Facebook on Friday evening, the night before she died. We’d both gone to see “Yesterday,” at different theaters and discussed it briefly. I wish I’d kept the conversation going into the night and through the next day. Maybe we could’ve made it past the episode that claimed her life.

And the last thing of mine she shared on Facebook? I cried fresh tears when I read it.

Let me assure you, even though she didn’t make it to 65, Julie didn’t take anything for granted. She lived with her entire heart and soul. And I know that all who knew her were enriched by the relationship.

So Julie, this is for you. May your spirit rest in beauty and peace.

Love,

Leslie

I Don’t Mean to be Difficult, and Yet

I tend to be an annoying person. One would think that since I’m aware of this tendency that I’d be able to temper my behavior and know when to cease and desist. One would be wrong.

Even in the midst of my most annoying times, and even as my brain is yelling at me to shut the hell up, I continue along the path of greatest annoyance. It’s a talent of sorts, I suppose.

Take my new dairy-free, mostly vegan diet for example. Any time I have an opportunity to dine with someone other than Studly Doright, I lecture myself about how to handle my food requirements.

“Listen, Leslie,” that’s what I call myself. “Just peruse the menu, and don’t make a big deal of your dietary restrictions. No one else at the table needs to hear what you can and can’t eat. Just order and be done with it.”

Easy enough, right?

Instead, once I’m in the actual ordering situation I’m all, “Hey, do the shrimp lettuce wraps contain any dairy? I can’t eat any dairy, and you do not want to be around me if I accidentally ingest anything with dairy. The gas emissions alone are enough to choke a grown man, and I’m not talking about an average grown man here. I’m talking about The Rock or even Chuck Norris in his prime. And then, the bouts of diarrhea and/or constipation are absolutely devastating. I’ve lost 22 pounds over the course of two bouts of digestive distress brought on, perhaps, by my intake of dairy products. And you know, I’m not technically a vegan; however, I know that vegan fare is totally dairy free, so it’s safe for my digestive system and won’t result in a bout of the squirts and the subsequent resulting hemorrhoids, so that’s why I’m asking about the shrimp lettuce wraps, in case you wondered, which you probably didn’t, but still….”

About half a sentence into the above ramble, my brain is calling me all sorts of awful names and warning me that I’m going to die alone, friendless, and unloved if I don’t stop speaking immediately. Do I listen? Naw. Stupid brain.

So, I’m having lunch with a friend on Thursday. My self lecture has begun, but this time I’m thinking about applying duct tape to my mouth and merely pointing at my food choices. That’ll work, right?

A Friend’s Loss

We bloggers form an odd circle of friendship. I follow a great many blogs by people from all over the world. Some blogs are written by people I actually know personally, while others are penned by people I’ve never met, and most likely will never meet. Miles and miles, and often oceans, separate us.

Many of the people I follow also follow me. We get to know each other and I, at least, look forward to their next photographs or poems or essays on life. I care about my blogging friends

Yesterday, one blogger shared with us that he’d just learned of his adult son’s death. His post was real and raw and I began crying as I read it aloud to my husband. My heart hurt, and I felt so helpless that I just wanted to go to bed and cover my head with the covers.

My prayers are with him and his family. I hope they know just how many people are thinking of them, and sending love their way, and crying tears that they will never see, but are very real and heartfelt.

Peace.

The Meaning of Life

The Meaning of Life

By Leslie Noyes

We serve as witness

No more, no less, bearing weight

Of life’s existence

That’s why we remain

When those we love cease to be

We serve as witness

When my time here ends

Serve as my witness; I lived

I can ask no more

An Unfinished Game

Politics connected us, provided conversation.
We’d never met, and still, I wept the day
That Richard died.

I became friends with a fascinating man on Facebook through a Liberal group we’d gravitated to before this past election. Richard was smart, funny, and upbeat. I learned that he’d lost his wife a few months before we “friended” each other, and he was fighting through his grief while dealing with a grave illness of his own.

As he prepared for a round of chemo Richard asked for volunteers to play against him in Words With Friends, figuring it would be a great way to distract him from the rigors of chemotherapy.

I volunteered and we played one game after another. He was a novice player, and I beat him soundly every time. We didn’t chat much on the app; although, he promised he’d come out the winner eventually. 

A couple of days ago Richard posted on FB that he was going to take some time away from the computer to concentrate all his energy on feeling better. We all wished him well and figured he’d be back in no time, not knowing how very sick he was. The man never complained.

This morning, though, a post from Richard’s brother let us know that our friend had succumbed to complications from pneumonia. All of those who’d befriended him in our political group are devastated, and I cried all morning for the loss of this friend.

We never met in person. Chances are our real world paths never would have crossed, but I valued his friendship. And I mourn his death. Rest easy friend. 


Peace, people.

The Hurt

Friends through skinned knees and brownie scouts, shared all the secrets we’d figured

Out. Built our circle of misfit toys, hardly noticing the slights of those boys who found us too

Juvenile. We weren’t easy, but neither were we prudes. Eager to please, shy around those

More crude. Then I moved away, torn from our safety net; you found yourself caught in

Another web. Do you recall telling me that my leaving was the best thing that could have

Happened for you? I cannot imagine saying that to someone who’d been my friend.

But then maybe friendship was an illusion, and being discarded was the ugly truth. 

I’ve forgiven you, but no longer trust you. Your silence now speaks volumes. Who are you?

Drama In Illinois

One of my best friends in this old world lives near Champaign, Illinois. She and her husband are in the process of relocating to the east coast. This morning I received the following email from her and laughed so hard I snorted coffee out of my nose. With my friend’s permission, I’m sharing with you. Enjoy.

Do you need a laugh? If so, read on. . . Last Friday morning at 6 a.m., I went out in my bath robe (fairly short – with nothing underneath since I had just taken a shower and hadn’t bothered
to go to my drawer to pull out undies. After all, I’m on my own in the house!).

Anyway, I tried to open the front door after getting the paper only to discover that I was locked out! The Realtor had been in the house the day before and must have locked both locks. We usually only lock the dead bolt. No problem! We have a keyless pad to open the garage door. However, since I’ve been living alone, I’ve been locking the door between the garage and house at night. Why didn’t I ever hide a key in the garage?!?

Needless to say, I was locked out at 6 a.m. with no undies, no phone, no car keys, no clock. . . I waited what seemed to be an hour (but was really about 1.25 hr.) before knocking on the neighbor’s door (our State Farm Agent). I didn’t want to wake anyone up at 6:00 a.m.

I used the neighbor’s phone to call the number on the For Sale sign in my yard. However, that was the real estate office number and the message stated that the office would open at 8:00 a.m. I put in an emergency plea anyway for someone to help out a client in a bath robe.

Then the neighbor remember that the dad of their daughter’s friend in Mahomet was a real estate agent. They gave him a call and he came over at 7:30 to let me in. Luckily, the lock box with a key was still outside the house, so any realtor could access the key. Yes, I sat in my garage for 1.5 hours in a bathrobe! Good thing I didn’t have to pee! Seriously, that would only happen to me. However, any chance this sounds like something that would happen to you?  

She knows me well. It’s a miracle I haven’t had this happen to me.

Peace, people!

Lunching Alone

Eating alone
at a booth meant for four
I watch in envy the
gaggle of women gathering
noisily for lunch.

They are older than I am,
sixties and seventies,
but I would join them
in a heartbeat if they but
said the word.

Do they realize how lucky
they are to have
whatever it is that bonds
them?
I hope so.

  
Peace, people.

Favor

the favor of her friendship,
forged in youth,
had strings attached.
acknowledge her privilege
accept her status
unwrap her gifts
or succumb to the vacuum.

it pains me to admit that
I once felt adrift
without her approval
the old habit of relishing
her other-directed
sarcasm, snideness,
an affliction of belonging.

heaven knows I cried some
in anger and loss;
who could I be without her?
my soul answered in a flourish:
you are nourished now
deep within, all your own
healthier, wiser, independent.