Today marks the 3rd anniversary of my best friend's death, one of the hardest days I can remember enduring. There are so many things about death that elude us, not the least of these is where people's spirit's reside when they are gone. I can tell you one of the places Carrie is: she is with me.
Carrie was more than a friend to me, she was a force, a spirit that spoke to me when she was not near, she was my cohort in laughter even when it was inappropriate, egging me on to that beyond-control spot of hilarity where you just might pee in your pants you're laughing so hard.
Carrie filled my life with handwritten notes from the dorm room next door, across the Atlantic when I studied in England, Puerto Rico, Texas, Virginia, and Florida. She painted and drew things she thought were only small tokens, but they are some of my dearest treasures.
Carrie assumed the best in everyone, but never hesitated to make fun of them. We were all fair game, and if she knew your weaknesses she had a wonderful way of letting you embrace them through laughter. When every photo was removed from it's frame and my dear one's faces were replaced with a naked butt, I needed look no further than my bestie and our wonderful compadre Liz. Only they could come up with an elaborate project to poke at my extreme dislike of the human rear end.
She loved fiercely and without reservation. For someone who knew what it was to be hurt by love, she never let it get in the way of investing in others. She had friends across the lines of all social classes-- at our private woman's college she could hang with the rich “pearl girls” as well as she could with the Habitat homeowners when we volunteered. She saw beyond what people presented the world and watched for who they truly were, she knew what you had to offer the world, and appreciated each gift you brought.
There were times she loved unconditionally when I knew she would be hurt, and as was our relationship-- I told her. She lovingly acknowledged my warnings, and loved anyway. Some of these relationships are the reasons I most admire her. She loved when it wasn't fun for her, when it was hard to wrap her arms around someone; she loved thoroughly and completely, even when it didn't make sense to the rest of us. Sometimes she loved when no one else did, and encouraged others to come along, which they frequently did-- because Carrie made it ok.
When I watched her parent I saw this. We all have moments in motherhood when it's hard to act like you love, even though you do. Carrie made these moments pass. She videotaped coordinated crying fests when she had a toddler and a newborn at the same time, and called it her birth control. She developed language which became second nature to those around her, calling her children “friends” so even when she was coaching them through a hard spot they knew she was more their coach than their superior.
With a single sweep of her arm, Carrie brought us all alongside her, tucking us into her heart, and making this ride of life so much more rich, so full of laughter, but never losing track of the depth and meaning.
To those who never took the chance to truly know her, she was only “cool breeze:” a breath of laughter and fresh air, which certainly she was to the rest of us as well. Come into her close circle though, and you know she struggled with the meaning and justice of world affairs, social justice, and right relationship for as many hours as she spent in tacky polyester lounge suits playing pranks on those of us fortunate enough to be on her hit list.
Carrie always thought she would die young. I have no doubt that the world has never hosted a soul as pure and joyful as hers, and wish we could have kept her a while longer. I still talk to her daily, just as I did in my mind when we were both too busy parenting to catch up on the phone as frequently as we'd like, and somehow now I feel she is even more present with me in those moments. But in the times I want to drink wine out of cardboard boxes and laugh at the unfortunately awkward moments in life, I miss her dearly.
So, my friends, carry a little bit of my dear friend with you today. Love someone who doesn't deserve it. Play a prank for no reason. Write a handwritten note, just because. Treasure your friends, pick up the phone and call one of them, even if you only have 5 minutes. Whatever you are doing today, I hope you find humor in your mistakes and joy in the people who are sitting next to you at dinner tonight. I'm turning March 3rd into national bestie day. Treasure yours while they are with you, and tell them what they mean to you whenever you possibly can.
Love wins again,