It’s been that long since Rob left us, and I still really don’t have a better idea of what happened, other than a freak accident that can’t be explained. I’m still saddened that he’s not here with us, but it’s easier, now, a year later, to remember the really cool things about him that we will all keep with us. Personally, his smile, his laugh, and his easy-going personality were a great boon to me during my time in Maine. I wish more people could have met him, and I really wish more people were like him. I can honestly say that I’m a better person for having met him. He is well loved.
I’m in Houston, Texas, the scene of the single most trying year of my adult life. I’ve been through a lot, not a war, and not as much as everyone else in the world – but this isn’t a contest. I’ve been through enough to know that years like 2006 was for me what 2001 was for New York – devastating, trying, excruciating, hateful, and, for what ever reason, MINE. I know it wasn’t just a bad year for me, and believe me I know it was worse for others, not the least of which is The Cheerleader.
But I can, now, look on it and, while it’ll never be ok, I don’t have any personal regrets about it. I did what I had to do. I learned more than I should have. I survived, and am stronger, more capable and just all-around better for it. Are there things I would reverse if I could? Of course there are, I would never have anyone go through what The Cheerleader had to face. And she’s not the first of my close friends to lose a spouse, The Scot went through that when she was 30, and she won’t be my age for at least another 4 days. (HA!)
I’m in Texas now, tho, here because on April 9th it will be a year since Richard died. In that time, so much has changed, so many people who called themselves ‘friends’ proved to be nothing more than drinking buddies – drinking buddies who couldn’t be bothered with a real-life event, at that. So many others, tho, have stepped-up and shown themselves to be great friends. Some have even been promoted to family, by choice and by grace, regardless of legal standing.
And as I type this up, at 3 am, I want to thank some people who I dearly love, in no particular order: Mom, who really is amazing. Dad, who for the first time I understand and relate to, and he seems to relate to and understand me, too. Boo, who has her moments, but who amazes me nonetheless. Tricia, who is expecting my nephew any day now, and who I keep meaning to call but somehow it’s always late when I remember and she’s a morning person. Zola, who kept my grandpa going strong for 20 years after he’d given up on pretty much everything, and whom I also mean to call. Sue, my aunt, who I know is crazy, but who has some of the best views on the world, and is kinda fun to see nowadays. Larry & Elaine, my aunt and uncle who, no matter how long it’s been since I’ve seen them, they have some great story and want to hear mine, too. Kelly, Jen, Erin, Ryan & Alex, the cousins, whom I miss, and who have spread out all over the country. Victoria, Ruth Anne, and India, my other sister, other mom and my middle-namesake-other-niece, who all love me so much they ignore the fact that I’ve not made it out for a visit since they moved to San Diego. Jan, Brian and Trevor Johnson, the Phoenicians I miss more than I’d miss the sun. Chris, the Phoenician I managed to get moved to Texas and who, really, is going to be one of the business leaders of the next 25 years. Keithi, The Scot; Julie, The Celt, Nae, the Leader and Mando, the barkeep – the girls who made highschool fun, and every day since even better. Janna, who also was part of high school, but also since we were 8, through our first year of college, then she visited me in Phoenix over the holidays in 1997, and who, through it all, has been brilliant. Jerial, who has managed, magically, to be both friend and anchor to Janna and to me. To Sirois, a voice of insanity in a really boring state, Stacey, the side-kick roommate who, with me, could make the pope pee his robe, and Marilyn, the only bookkeeper to wear her Harley-Davidson leather to work and not even raise an eyebrow – and she’s now a grandmother twice over!
And the list goes on and on. Please, if you’re not in this list, don’t be upset, it’s not that I don’t think of you. I know tons of people, almost all of whom I like. These people, tho, are the guard-rails on the winding-twisting-fucked up road that is my life, and I’m beyond grateful for them. They are loved, intensely, by me, and I wish I could see them all every day.