The Stuff of Z

Over the 4th, I gave away a considerable amount of Z’s stuff.  It was mostly easy to figure out what went with whom.  Especially with books and stuffed animals.  There seemed to be something perfect for each of her cousins.  Even the smalls got books that were held onto and she managed to retain a stuffed animal that was just right for each personality.

I didn’t mind giving the things away.  Mostly because I knew either I could give the things she loved to those that would love them and, in turn, keep that spirit alive OR I could let her things wither away in her bedroom to collect dust and let the memory in the things fade to nothing.

I chose to give the things more life.  A life with someone new.  More love and joy.  More memory and, by way of transitive property, more of Z spread into the world.

All my love went into the bags and I sent them into the wild.

The one thing I had a problem with was her archery shoes.

There was both nothing special and everything special about those ridiculous shoes. Bright blue and yellow, they were not made for wall flowers or the shy among us.  We shopped for archery shoes at the Gaylord discount warehouse shoe store and they were chosen for their merits in both personality and budget.

They were also the only gift I took back from their first box and put them into another.  I’d put them with all her other footwear intended for my neices.  My sister thought my niece (and my love) could use them for an upcoming sporting season.  I was hesitant to give them away for a non-specified sporting passion.  Which is super weird because I brought several other boxes of sundries and notions that were freely available to be picked through and chosen from.  Jewelry and purses and clothes and shoes and bubbles that I was ready to let go.

The archery shoes caught my breath. And I’m not really sure why.

Z only wore the shoes in a gym.  Never outside.  She practiced and competed in them and then changed out of them for her regular life.  She held her breath and calmed and centered herself in those silly looking shoes.

My niece could have used them for volleyball.  Or gym.  Or any other sport.  But I needed them to be something more than athletic shoes.  I needed them to transfer her spirit and power to another sport of equal intensity and calm.

I mean, the entire thing is so… pedestrian.  Why would I so freely give up her daily life shoes and her boots and her sandals but not her archery shoes?  They were of equal importance in her life.  She had as much enthusiasm for hiking The North Country Trail as she did for Olympic hopefulness.

It was me.  It was my projections.  I transferred the feelings onto those blue and yellow shoes.

In the end I gave them to Z’s “sister from another mister”, another girl with whom she shared a weird connection in sport and fandoms and free-spiritedness.  They were too far apart in both age and geography to be BFFs, but they were tight enough in spirt and shine and we all knew their connection was true and lasting.

And that’s how the archery shoes became fencing shoes.





The Festive Cemetery

Really, I like the cemetery my people are in.

It’s called Lakeview, but it really doesn’t overlook a lake.  Possibly it could if it weren’t for a lot of trees and a road and more trees and a bunch of houses.  But still the intent is there and branding is everything.

I’m not much of a gardener (I did buy some plants 6 years ago.  And I spray painted my bushes silver 4 years ago – so… green thumb) but suddenly I really feel the need to decorate the crap out of my plots.  I’ve planted a rose bush and my parents and siblings planted some pretty red annuals.

That’s kind of the nice thing about this cemetery – it’s festive all around.  Almost all of the plots are covered with plants (plastic and fresh) and wind chimes and whirly-gigs and all kinds of what-nots.

Just down from my people is another girl.  Two years older than Z, she passed away three months after Z passed.  I bring her things too.  In my mind, she and Z are friends.

There are plots that are completely edged and mulched and covered in memorabilia and tokens of affection.  There are benches under a tree and good shade and rolling hills and a constant nice breeze and signs of life everywhere.

I did not bury Joe because I was afraid of letting him go.  His presence gave me a kind of calm.  And the thought of letting Z go scared the crap out of me.  I did not want to put them into the ground.  I hated the thought of it.

They belong with me, they belong in a house, not in the ground.  They are supposed to be near me always.

But now I’m okay with it.  I like where they are.  I like that I can stop on my way home for a quick visit.  I’m much more at peace with the situation than I thought I would be.

There are very few places I feel home.  I feel like a visitor in Grand Rapids.  Even six years in, I still tell people I’m new.  Flint feels like home when I drive through it, but it’s not my home.  Flint and I have both grown apart from each other.  It’s a distant home.  The same for Macomb County.  It was my home and my heart warms in it’s memory.  But, again, the metro area and I have grown apart.  Trout Lake never changes.  It’s population will never see 400.  It won’t get a new store or a new bar.  It won’t be home to some hip new brewery.  It will always be my escape.   My heart beats calmer when I’m there.

Now the Upper Peninsula will always be my home base.  What was firm before is now cemented.  I left my people there.  I will never leave them behind.

Where they go, I will go.  Where they rest, I will rest.

I am far too young to be so tied to a cemetery.

0 stars.  Would not recommend.

The Last Party

It’s been a long (long) time since I’ve had an opportunity to write about the goings-on regarding this stupid, ridiculous situation I’ve found myself in.

Mostly it’s because I was busy with the last party. I prepped for two solid weeks, I cooked three kinds of dinner meat, I pickled 11 jars of red onions that got left at home, I cleaned out and organized her belongings to distribute among her friends and loved ones, my family cleaned and prepped.  Visitors from Alabama, Indiana, Washington, and all parts of Michigan made the trip to the UP to attend.

I had a catholic burial, which much like the funerals, I don’t actually remember much of.  Other than the priest can make holy water out of any water.  On the deck just before the ceremony began, he asked us to give him some water to bless which, in turn, he would use to bless the graves. We used lake water on my request.

Later, we all wondered about the volume of water that could be blessed at one time.  I mean, if he can bless a travel-sized shampoo bottle’s worth of water, why not the entire lake?  Give everyone a quick baptism by sun and warmth and taco dinner.

This part I do remember: I interrupted the ceremony because I forgot I’d brought the summit rum. Summit rum is what was left of a bottle of Captain Morgan that Z and Alex  found on a mountain climb in 2010.  I’d brought it with me and completely forgot that I wanted to do that.  I hurriedly cried out a little “WAIT!!” and then passed out shots just after we started filling in the grave.  As customary, we dropped some onto our departed, we toasted, and I finished off that business with the proclamation that the drink itself was really, really bad.  Comically bad.

We all went back to the house to eat and swim and commune in our tragedy and losses.

I hated it as much as I loved it.

I have so many thoughts and feels and moments from this past week.  And I’ll get to them.  But for now, it’s done.  Tomorrow I go back to work, nurse my sunburn and bug-bites, and re-start.

0 stars.  Would not recommend.