Sunday, September 13, 2009

Dealing with Conflicting Emotions

I'm an only child who either had to cultivate or "marry into" sisters. I'm also a sports-loving, political junkie who is concerned about the path our country has wandered onto. So, this weekend has been one of mixed emotions for me.

The Mainstream Media refuses to give the Tea Party movement and its brethren their due; the President is trying to change the face, focus, and emotions of 9/11; my blood sugar did a jumpsy-doodle this morning; we're still under a flash flood watch in New Orleans . . .

And three years ago this morning, my clever, mischievous, funny friend lost her 18-year battle against breast cancer that began when she was only 31 years old. She was surrounded by love as she peacefully left for the next stage in this God-guided voyage that we call existence -- her family was at her bedside; my family was there to hold their hands and watch their backs.

In 2001, at the same time I moved to join Pepper full-time in New Orleans and a few months before 9/11, JB and her husband made a calculated quantum step in their lives: they sold their house, quit their jobs in New Jersey, and moved halfway across the country to be closer to their families in Arkansas. They purchased, updated, and operated a B & B in the mountains on the Spring River, and dreamed of opening a coffee shop and bookstore someday in the quaint "old town" section of their adopted village. Their older daughter summed it up perfectly -- Only her Mom would give up everything familiar to throw slumber parties and drink coffee for a living!

As her illness progressed, JB had trouble keeping weight on ("I'm quite svelte!" she would say). So, often, when I would visit and we could chase her husband out of town, we worked on crossword puzzles together in front of the television, and ate fudge and popcorn for supper with ice cream for dessert. Good for her figure, not so good for mine. We did that kind of give-and-take thing for one another, except that she couldn't stay awake late enough to suit me and I couldn't get up early enough to suit her. She would let me sleep in though, that cultivated sister of mine, and I knew that she would be sound asleep as soon as her head hit the pillow, so we engaged in our antics mostly during the in-between hours.

On Thursday, the day after she left us, we decorated the Inn (and Words bookshop, which had opened a few months before), with billowing-pink-ribbon-bedecked grapevine wreaths. That send-off seemed especially appropriate for a woman who had come up with the idea to support and encourage literacy by starting a "Children's Kite-Making-and-Flying Festival."

Then we ate a lot, and celebrated her life and creativity and passions over the next 4 days. We continue to do so everyday from afar.

This morning, I posted a photo on my Facebook profile of the two of us taken on a misty evening in New Orleans a few years ago -- neither of us would've passed as "beauties" in that particular snapshot, but we were together so it is likely that we were having fun -- or at least on our way to saving the world. The caption I posted captured something "right," I think:

"Moogie's best buddy, JB, when selecting a photo to display or publish, would always , admittedly, select the one in which she was the "cutest." So, to honor her memory, still very much alive since 3 years ago on this day, and as a nod to her quirky sense of humor, I chose to publish a pic in which neither of us looks exactly her best!"

My post made her younger daughter "LOL" and engage in one of the world's very best emotions: laughter through tears (an expression that JB was very proud to have "borrowed" from Dolly Parton's character in Steel Magnolias on a regular basis).

So, this weekend has been sad for me because part of me is no longer here -- but happy that my friend no longer suffers the pain of that wicked earthly malady; sad because I can't call her on the phone to have a long-distance cup of coffee in the morning, but happy that she is out there somewhere, plotting a big adventure for the two of us when I catch up with her.

And, it's been happy because the Saints won their season opener against Detroit in the Dome today, 45-27! She would be happy that I'm happy about the Saints even though, in my estimation, she never developed an adequate appreciation for football.

So, because JB always signed off our phone conversations by admonishing me, "You take care of you," I'm going to indulge myself in a little Saintly happiness. And I wish an end-of-weekend happiness for you and yours, too, because JB would like that -- along with a little fudge and popcorn for supper.


  1. I imagine she roots for the Saints now, right? What a beautiful tribute. Quirky funny friends are the best and I have always loved that saying after hearing it, "Laughter through tears."

  2. moogie, this was so beautifully written. a loving tribute that i'm sure your friend would have been proud of.

  3. Well... for the first time evah I miss being on Facebook, coz I'm missing your photo.

    As above: beautifully written. Your post touches me close to home, Moogie... as my former Best Friend (The Second Mrs. Pennington) is a nine-year breast cancer survivor. She was just ten years older than JB when she was first diagnosed. We pray a lot in this space.

  4. Then I shall add TSMP to my prayer list, too!

  5. You're a good woman, Moogie. Thank you.