I received sad news yesterday. A dear friend died unexpectedly. She was 74 but you'd never know it. With her red hair, sharp glasses and amazing sense of style, Judy-pudy (as I called her) always challenged me to look great at anytime, and of course, at her age. I never quite made the grade, but she didn't care. And now...I have her shoes to fill. She left behind a husband of 59 years (and yes, she married him at 15 and stayed married, how about that!), two wonderful daughters who I have known forever and two lovely grandchildren. I was shocked when I got the call. You think it won't ever happen but it does. It is a strange place to stand. Her daughters are scared of living without her. They feel adrift, cut off from the known safety of their mother. I know this feeling. No matter how far afield I roamed, I always knew, like Dorothy, there was no place like home. But when my parents crossed the veil 6 months apart, I was suddenly adrift, cast off from the safety of their presence and left to my own devices. I wasn't ready to be a grown up. But are any of us? Last night, as we sipped wine with her family, we shared stories of my friend. We cried, we laughed and we reminisced. It was all good, but there was that strange miasma hanging over us. The sense that we were alone in the world in a way we never had been before.
And so as my com-padres in magic move through their big rituals at an
upcoming convention, I will be standing before a gathering of her family
and close associates, eulogizing my friend. Doing the work of a mambo -
giving succor to the living and pouring water for the dead. Ayibobo.