Z was small. I called her a smidge. I also made up random names for her, including Vega (for no particular reason) and Grizzy. Now that I think of it, I called her Griz a lot.
She didn’t (doesn’t?) have a middle name so she’d make names up for people that asked. She wanted her diploma to read Burrito as her middle name. (Sadly, it did not). One of her frequent middle name lies (jokes?) was Della. Isabella Della was fun to say.
But still, she was tiny. She did, however, remind me that she had “birthing hips” (she did). Obviously, she looked good in everything. Except for one tragic pair of shorts that sat really high on her waist and really high on her butt. I hated those shorts. Eventually, they got thrown away in a bathroom in the Mall of America.
I also liked to remind her that she lead a charmed life. She really did. I mean, other than the tragic ending and a few blips along the way (losing her step-dad, whom she adored, was one). But there are always blips for working-class families.
I wanted to visit her charmed life. Even though it was cut tragically short, she packed a lot of life into those quick 18.5 years.
Here is the annotated list of a brief life:
She visited Rome, Venice, Italy’s largest gelatto shop. She excelled at archery. She went to Mackinac Island many times, went to an amazing school with amazing friends. She visited Kentucky, North Carolina, Indiana, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Florida, Virginia, Missouri, Mississippi, Alabama, and Wyoming (where she got her driver license without taking driers education), and had extended family that acts like siblings. She stayed in the presidential suite at the Ritz Carlton in Key Biscayne for a week. She got to go behind the scenes of the lemur encounter, and the penguin encounter at Jungle Island, and she got to get into the dolphin pool at Miami Seaquarium. She went to Disney world, City Museum, she went spelunking in Jewel Cave and an unauthorized cave in the UP, she swam in the Atlantic ocean in her clothes, she played under the Mackinaw Bridge one cold April when there was still ice in the lake, she walked the Mackinaw Bridge, she spent a week in solitude at Pictured Rocks, she read all of the books she could lay her hands on, she had strong opinions on life and the universe, she knew why the answer to “life, the universe, and everything” was 42*. She reached the summit of Cloud Peak wearing a swimsuit and tennis shoes. She could cook a big meal by herself, she broke all the rules she thought she could (and some she couldn’t), she knew without question her career path her whole life, she tasted caviar, she took a cross-country train trip (twice) by herself, she purchased half a car with her own money. She saw Flogging Molly in concert. She could swim a mile and knew proper dive techniques. She saw the Saturn V rocket and a moon rock. She loved making treasure hunts for her friends. She could charm almost everyone she met, and she could captain a stern-drive fishing boat.
She loved deeply. She was loved. She was empathetic. She was passionate. She had grace and poise. She was a joker and had a silver tongue.
She was a small star that didn’t last long; Even still… she shone so, so brightly.
*42 = math.