Mich, Mattie, Cindy and I were driving to the cemetery to bury our Best Frodis Femme Friend Forever, Anissa. Aside from a brief moment of tears the afternoon I arrived in Ohio, I had kept it together. After all, I was the one who drifted away into a looser friendship for a decade, the one who felt the need to throw myself into accomplishments to keep my demons at bay. The only thing I had figured out in the past few days since I learned of Anissa’s death was that I had screwed up colossally. I wasn’t sure how it happened, but the very actions I had taken to keep myself from wasting my life had actually caused me to waste my life on a deeper, more important level. I knew step one was to be present for Cin and Mich, to hold them as they cried and to be the strong one. This wasn’t my first time to bury a friend, after all, though I was pretty sure my friends didn’t know that and it didn’t seem like the time to bring it up. The first time I saw a dead body was my friend Jenny. She was 7. I was 4. Her heart defect killed her. My heart defect was successfully “corrected”. I’ve been trying to earn that quirk of fate ever since. Anyway, I got through Jenny’s viewing at an age when most kids were still grappling with the mortality of goldfish, and so now I would be strong and stoic and help my friends through Anissa’s funeral. It was the least I owed them. The car radio was blaring Monkees, of course. I was staring out the window on the way to the cemetery, pretending to look at the beautiful countryside outside Columbus. And then, the stereo caught my attention as Cin’s Random MP3 shuffle turned to Sometime in the Morning. As the song played out, I was getting closer and closer to losing it. For the first time it felt like Carole King’s lyrics were describing my unlikely friendship with my sisters in general, and Anissa specifically. Determined NOT TO BE WEAK, I gritted my teeth through the second verse, bracing myself for the bridge.
Now in her childlike eyes
You see the beauty there
You know it was always there
And you need no longer wear a disguise…
And at that last line I lost it. Cin squeezed my hand as I wept, and I let her. More to the point, I realized that if I was going to make anything positive come of Anissa’s death, and of my life, I would have to shed my protective shields and camouflage. Of course, at that time I thought it would be a simple matter of digging up some albums and seeing if there were any Monkees fans still puttering around online in the wake of Davy’s death. Heck, maybe I’d even start a blog or something. Let’s just say I did not yet comprehend just how deep the rabbit hole of radical vulnerability would take me. Continue reading