It’s odd how some things come together. One blogger friend writes about a word every day, and how it impacts his life. Another blogger friend wrote about characters in TV shows. And yet another wrote about the theme music on Good Times. My friends father died last week. This past weekend was the birthday of a dear friend of mine who passed away 7 years ago. A fourth blogger has been posting about the end of his life, as cancer has taken over his body. Today’s blog is inspired by all these things- it’s an ensemble.
When my daughter was in Pre-k, I met 4 parents. Our children were all in the same class. This was our first experience with the New York City public school system- these were our first (and for most) only children. We had a lot to learn. Parenting is so hard- we were afraid that we were screwing up at every turn. We needed support, so our little band of five was formed. Our own personal ensemble cast- there wasn’t really a star (OK it was me….) but a group of great supporting actors. We began meeting for coffee every morning after drop off.
These friends literally got me through early elementary school. If I had an issue, a problem, an idea about child rearing- I threw it out to the group. This was my safe space- where I could ask questions, give advice, laugh and cry. These were my people. We were what the best ensembles were- a collaboration of people, who alone were okay, but together could change the world. Or run a school event. Same thing.
But we were geeks- specifically about pop culture. We read, we watched movies, we watched TV. We all loved sit coms. We would quote from sit coms as a part of our daily lives. We would have debates over shows, and characters, and favorite episodes. We could relate almost any situation on our lives directly to a TV show- this is like the Chinese restaurant in Seinfeld, this is like the Smelly Cat episode on Friends.
Then, when our kids were in third grade- G wasn’t feeling so well. He went to doctor after doctor- but no one could see anything wrong. Until they did. He got the prognosis on the morning of the spring parent teacher conferences. As we sat in the pizza place with the kids, eating our now traditional half day of school lunch- we could not look at one another. While the kids still retained their innocence- the adults did not. Nothing would ever be the same again. Six weeks later he was gone.
His memorial service- hundreds of people- including his Grandmother- stood around eating mini hot dogs, drinking Dirty Martini’s (his drink)- wondering how this could happen to a 45 year old man, wo had three little kids. We held each other, cried and laughed, and cried some more. When I spoke to the crowd, I held back the tears- G would not want be to cry during the eulogy. He would want me to remember him the way he lived his life- and I did my best. I told stories about our little band of 5- how we would spend hours talking about nothing- which was really everything. And I ended my speech with a quote from Frasier, our favorite show. On the series finale, Niles says to his brother, “I’ll miss the coffees.” And that was the bet way to sum up an amazing friendship and amazing person.
Last weekend would have been his 53rd birthday- the same age I turned this year. And I still miss his laugh, his wit, his biting satire, his humanity, and his take on pop culture. His presence in my life changed me- for the better. I’m a better person for having known him.
And remember way back in the first paragraph? All those things? Our lives, our stories, are made of little bits and pieces of everything around us. Anything can trigger a memory, or an idea. And all those things made me think of G, on his birthday. And made me cry a little, and made me laugh a little.
And thanks to the following, who unknowingly inspired me:
http://www.spearfruit.com/- Courage and honor.