It does come in waves, the ache. And I won't lie and say that tears aren't part of it still. But sometimes the ache is beauty. It actually gets there...to that place where the missing isn't always sad. There are these really strange times where the missing is funny, and the ache is joyful. Sometimes the missing is a reason to call another person that I love. And a whole lot of the times the ache is thankfulness. There's a lot going on in my world right now that makes me think of Leslie, wish for Leslie, want Leslie's brand of listening and well placed humor. But these days my overwhelming feeling when she enters my mind is gratefulness. Thank God...I mean, seriously. Thank GOD, I had the time with her that I did, right?
Days after she died, Brooke and I put together a list of songs to play during the entrance and exit of the crowd at her memorial and to burn to disc to give out to close friends and family. The songs were an odd mix of songs that she loved, songs that we had loved when we were 13 (hello, Aerosmith and GNR at the pool in 1987) that we didn't really love anymore, but held so much love inside of them, songs that made Brooke think of Leslie, and songs that made me think of Leslie. Some of those she might never have even heard, but they told our story of how we loved her. I remember I picked Regina Spektor's "Fidelity". Brooke wisely suggested that Leslie would have hated that song. And I do believe that she is right. It's the rather affected way that Ms. Spektor sings he-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-ah-art. And let's be honest. Leslie loved Air Supply. And Donovan. In 2007. She wasn't particularly forward thinking in her musical tastes. Or particularly tasteful at all. But I didn't pick it because she would have liked the way she sang it. I picked because of one phrase in the song:
"Suppose I never ever saw you.
Suppose we never ever called."
Because, you know, that would have sucked. I mean, I can't even imagine...
I saw Leslie at camp two years before she moved to my town and started at my elementary school. I thought she was regally tall and had the most amazingly cool hair I'd ever seen, ever. And then she moved to my town, to my school, to my class, to my life. And oh my, did we ever call. We had a little cluster of lovely friends, all of us close in our own ways, but Leslie and I were the phone friends. Hours and hours and hours. Up until three minutes before her death, the telephone was a part of our friendship.
What IF I never saw her? What IF we had never called? There was literally no measuring stick for the anguish I felt when I picked that song for her service, but it was worth it. It was better than not having seen her, not having called.
Lately I've been listening to a lot of music from Wicked. I'm planning to totally annoy my boyfriend by dragging him to see it next month. There was a time when I just skipped over the For Good song. But now I listen to it over and over and over. Sometimes it does choke me up. And it does make me ache. But it's that ache of thankfulness. It is the answer to Regina Spektor's question, "What if...?"
I don't know if you, my invisible readers, have heard this song. And I'm not really the type to post song lyrics or youtube videos, but I think this is the time that I really have to. It's really the only way you can get it. And if you, invisible reader, are aching for yours, please remember as I do about Leslie...
Because I knew you, I have been changed for good...