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May 6, 2010 / merlisser

Goodnight sweet friend

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light

_ Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night– Dylan Thomas.

Dear Angela,

I didn’t hear you were sick until Louise sent me a Twitter direct message on Saturday and I was in Memphis due to a conference and Memphis in May. Well she just said you were in the hospital and she didn’t say intensive care or anything like that. She said you were at UAMS. So I drove to Little Rock from Memphis instead of coming straight home to see you but you weren’t at that hospital. I didn’t have your Dad’s number on my phone and I never had his cell. Well you know that. So I didn’t have any way to find you so I went home. I called your Dad on Monday but I had to work. He told me that you were in a coma and that was only a matter of time. And so I was going to see you Tuesday around noon but you were dead by then. Were you wondering where I was? I keep asking myself that. I didn’t know you had been in the hospital since last Monday. I didn’t know. Nobody told me. I would have been there. Did you spend your last week wondering where I was? I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.

Since I didn’t see you lying in that hospital bed, it hasn’t hit me yet but I can see the light in the distance and it’s getting closer and closer. I know when it finally hits, its’ going to crush me and it’s going to hurt real bad but I know I can’t run from it. I’m just standing there waiting for some impending flash of pain that hasn’t gotten here yet.

I can’t believe you don’t remember the coat incident. We were both in Ms. Judkins’s morning kindergarten class. Back then, kindergarten was only half a day and I was in the morning half. We had the same coat. One day, I put on my coat and started to leave and this girl said “you have my coat.” I told you I didn’t. Crying ensued. I went home to discover my coat was sitting in my closet. So my Mom had to drive me and your coat back to your house I can’t believe you don’t remember this if for no other reason than it was the first of what would become a whole hell of a lot of times that you would say, “See Melissa. I TOLD YOU . . . ”

You know what else? Those were the ugliest ass coats in the history of outerwear. My Mama managed to avoid taking a picture of me in that thing. She was smart. She knew better than to document her baby looking tacky on purpose. Of course, she did have the bad judgment to buy that ugly coat in the first place.

Of course, we didn’t get back under the same radar until we both got put on the “smart kid track” at school. If you are considered a smart kid, you get to take “Advanced Placement” classes. Of course, those are only offered one period a day and as a result, you end up having the same classes with the same 15 or 20 people for the rest of your high school career. We were both in band. We both went to Governor’s School. You ended up going to Girl’s State and subsequently Girl’s Nation.

Oh my God, there was that one time that Sam (my governor’s School boyfriend) came to visit and we went to pick up your boyfriend Charles from Prattsville. We drove to Prattsville. oh man. Crap, that was like 100 miles from our town. That was high school. And we ended up cruising PINE BLUFF of all places. oh crap.

Somehow we lost after high school. I had gone to Hendrix and moved to DC and went to law school. You had gone to UAPB and got a job with the Department of AG and ended up in IOWA and then DC. You got an MBA in DC around the same time I was in law school. Somehow we both managed to move back to this teeny tiny small ass town and like all chance meetings in this teeny tiny small ass town, I ran into you at Wal-Mart.

And well, we became fast friends all over again. I met your kids and somehow even when our schedules got crazy busy, I always ended up chaperoning your kids’ birthday parties. Hell, I even went to Chuck E. Cheese even though I don’t have kids of my own. That’s love. You compared us to that Any Day Now show. We would commiserate over small town syndrome and rage against not being able to find any gorganzola within the town limits. We would talk about all our nerdy pursuits. And somehow we got this crazy tradition where we would watch political debates and give our running commentary about them over the phone. I have no idea why I didn’t just drive to your house and watch them with you.

I knew you had MS. You told me. I’d have to drive you to Little Rock because your nerves couldn’t make the round trip by yourself. Your feet would get numb. Or the next day you would be wiped out. You had to take so much medicine. Yet, your schedule always managed to be busier than mine.

You were a force of nature. You loved attention. . . and football . . . and men. Oh you were such an optimist in matters of the heart.

And fearless, that one time those guys were leaving Sticky Fingers and you said “Why are you leaving? I”m here” One of them said, “What?” “I’m here!” “Who are you?” “The woman you’ve been waiting for all night.” You were always trying to set me up and pimp me out.

Crap there’s so much I could say on here. You loved attention. I think the only reason you didn’t have a blog of your own is that you worked for the federal government with this amazing Americans with Disability Act telecommuting from home position with uber secret security clearance. You’d be all tickled that I’m telling these tales.

There was so much left to do and so much that is now undone. You aren’t going to get to gussy up your daughter for prom or watch your kids graduate from high school. You aren’t going to get to meet all those fellows and girls that your kids are going to date.

I can hear you clearly yelling at them to get ready for bed. I guess because we were such good friends, you wouldn’t hang up the phone to scold them so our conversations would have you saying this like this. “Yes, Walmart is creating a false demand with their .. I TOLD YOU TO GET IN THE TUB SO YOU CAN GET READY FOR BED! . . . beverages.”

I’m so sad that you’re going to get to miss out on all that. You were your days were numbered. You knew that at some point you weren’t going to be able to work and that you were probably going to be in a wheelchair. Hell, we both knew. I just thought that well you could go from us having these intellectual conversations and running around town to me pushing your wheelchair and you occasionally forgetting stuff. I thought there was going to be some sort of weening process, not this quick brutish bam like an invisible bolt of lightning that somehow struck your head and knocked you into unconsciousness.

I saw your Dad yesterday and he was telling me that your last words to him were “You can deduct your job search expenses on your taxes.” I got to thinking what your last words to me were. I think the last I actually saw you was when I drove you to Little Rock to pick up your kids from the Airport. They had gone to visit their father in St. Louis. You took me out to Chi’s as a “thank you/birthday dinner” We even took a picture of all that food.

Chi

I just realized what your last words were to me. It was a FB message dated April 25 7:02 p.m.: “He’s attractive”

For some reason, the idea that our last conversation was about boys er… men (We’re not high school teachers, people) makes me smile.

And as for the identity of said man, well, that’s a secret I’m taking to my grave.

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