When I was in high school, I knew a girl named Laura. I wouldn’t say we were friends, but I wouldn’t say we weren’t friends either. We had mutual friends and often hung out with the same group of people. So I guess you would say we were friendly, but not close.
I remember thinking Laura was beautiful. She was tall and I guess what you’d call willowy. She had dark brown hair. She was a lovely person. I remember her always being nice. She didn’t seem to have that nastiness that some teenage girls seem to develop. I had known her before, in a different town. She was on my baseball team. It’s odd, how the lives of military families intersect over and over again sometimes.
After grade 10, my family moved, and while I kept in touch with some of my friends, Laura wasn’t one of them.
Many, many years later, I sign up for this thing called Facebook. I start seeing and friending many of the people I went to school with back then. I think hey, wouldn’t it be fun to scan in some of my old high school pictures and post them to this group that has been set up for our high school. So I did that. Laura was in one of the pictures I posted. A picture of a bunch of people at a party at someone’s house.
A little while later, Laura’s sister contacted me. I didn’t know she had a sister. She saw the picture that I had posted and wanted to know if I had any more pictures. She told me that Laura and been killed by a drunk driver a few years ago. Her husband was also killed. Their two young children survived. It was almost Halloween. Laura and her husband were taking the kids to their grandparents house to show them their Halloween costumes.
I was incredibly saddened by this. Such a waste. Two young kids without parents because of someone else’s stupid decision to drive drunk.
Laura’s sister became a Facebook friend of mine. Through seeing her posts, I kept up a little with Laura’s daughter in particular. She has done public service announcements for MADD. She’s now all grown up, in university. I’m sure her mother would be so proud.
Last year, on Laura’s birthday, her brother put together a slide show of pictures of Laura. I didn’t know she had a brother. I watched the slide show. Most of the pictures were of Laura as an adult. I had not seen Laura since grade 10. So that was the image I had in my head of her. When I saw the pictures in the slide show, the ones that were taken of her as an adult, and with her children, I thought to myself, “huh, she got fat.” Now before everyone gets all judgy on me, I didn’t say this as any kind of judgment or insult of her. It was a statement of fact. Unexpected, since I had the image of 15 year old Laura in my head. We all change. Most of us are fatter than we were. And if I’m being honest, it made me happy. Because it made me feel less alone.
Beyond that, I didn’t think too much more about it, other than alternating between sadness and anger at the the senseless loss. Until recently. For some reason, recently I started to think that it was really all bullshit, the focus that we all have on weight and what we look like. I mean really, do you think that any member of Laura’s family cares what size she was? They just want her back. Alive. Her daughter and son, her parents, her sister, her brother. They just want her.
Life is happening right now. Until it isn’t. None of us know when our lives aren’t going to be happening anymore. It could be over 10 minutes from now or in 50 or 60 years. Right now is what we have for sure. There are so many things I want to do, and I keep thinking, “yeah, I’ll do that when I’m thinner,” or “I’ll do that when my kids are older,” or “I’ll do that when my mortgage is paid off,” or sometimes even “I’ll never be able to do that.” And that is all bullshit, because life is happening RIGHT NOW, and that is all we know for sure. Life is not waiting for us to lose weight or have grown up kids or more money or more time or for any damn thing. Life keeps happening and we are actually missing it while we’re waiting for all those other things to be true.
While my life is happening I want to drink Wildberry coolers and sparkling wine, eat cheese and pasta, get a boudoir photo shoot, spend time on the beach, especially when it’s cold here in the winter, read lots and lots and lots of books, write stories and observations, lie in my hammock, grow vegetables, see other parts of the world, dance around in my kitchen to Ballroom Blitz, play volleyball on the beach, go to concerts, have ombre purple hair regardless of what the current trend is, wear red lipstick, ride my bike around to places, camp in the summer, hibernate in the winter. I want to play cards with my friends, laugh, love and be loved, talk to my kids about crazy things and show them all my sappy 80s movies, read tarot cards, listen to music and sing out loud. I want another tattoo, some sexy lingerie, lots of hugs, quiet time and loud time. And I really, really want to help other people figure out that life is happening RIGHT NOW and decide what they want in their right now.
There is not one damn thing on my list that I can’t do today, as I am. All of those things, every single one, I can do at my current weight. Before my mortgage is paid off, or my kids are grown up. It doesn’t have to be so complicated. It really doesn’t.
I’m going to get some Wildberry coolers.