Posted by: jeanne | April 8, 2010

my friend marie

we hung out and worked together all day long, then met on our off days for lunch at the pub, and we talked all the damn time.  we were like as two peas in a pod, except that i was a yank and marie was real dub.

we were both having our relationship problems with abusive men.  we were both thinking outside the box a bit earlier than was fashionable.  we were both basically rebels struggling with the need to behave ourselves.

this was thirty years ago.

i guess we spent two years working together, and then she found her knight in shining armor, quit the job, moved in with him, and i moved on as well, ditching my ex the axe murderer and setting myself up in a little fairy nest in the garrett of an old building.

later, i went back home and married someone who would give me my kid.  we were pregnant at the same time, both with girls.  and many other coincidences continued to give us things to talk about.

we never saw each other, of course.  i mean, once in ten years.  but we met for a pint whenever i was in town, and she’d tell me how her life was going.  it was always interesting, always dramatic.  marie was very good with drama, and very entertaining.  she was never what you’d call a happy person, not in the ecstatic blissful way you’d expect.  she was lively, vivacious, sharp, witty, incisive, sometimes pissy, sometimes sad, always funny, always with a different viewpoint than anyone else in the room and certain of the value of telling everyone then and there.  especially if she had something on her mind and a few pints under her belt.

and marie was way ahead of the crowd in her philosophy, too.  she broke away from the church years before much of the rest of the country.  she saw the whole business as a cruel power play, a sick joke, a trick by a twisted, rapacious man in skirts on a loving, trusting flock of people who’d been led to believe they shouldn’t think for themselves.  sorry; it made us both angry.

not that she wasn’t a seeker.  what made marie such a unique person was that she questioned everything.  and everything had to make sense for her to follow along with the plan.  but when she did follow a plan, she gave it everything.  she was a devoted wife and mother.  she got born again and loved jesus.  she revolutionized her diet with zeal, and cheated on it with abandon.

and i, who have had my brush with death, the brush with death that taught me that you just don’t leave loose ends lying there, i had a letter from her sitting on my death for the past several years, unanswered.  and the last time i was over, she was too depressed to come out of the house to see me.

and so, right before easter, she got pneumonia.  and a couple of days later, her heart was affected, and it was a quick decline.  everyone was in shock.  poor walter.  poor richard.  poor kids.  even poor exhusband.  but especially walter, who had an immensely strong relationship with marie from the first moment they laid eyes on each other, and that never died:  she was still crazy about him the last time we spoke.  and he still drove her crazy.  but they talked all the time, and they shared everything, and they loved each other with a strength that i had never known, myself, until i met jim.  so i really feel for walter.  and poor richard.  marie was always the older sister and he always felt protective of her, fiercely loyal, a real brother.  he’s hurting now.  and the kids.

nobody expected her to die, everyone was too dependent on her always being there, and whether they were living in the same house or on a far continent, they worked some part of their lives around her, the way  i was always meaning to answer her letter, always looking at it and thinking about it.

and tho she died on good friday, she didn’t rise up on the sunday.  they buried her today, the church far more full than she would ever have expected.  and now everyone has to go on living, and wear away at the scab when it forms, because i can’t write that letter now.



  1. […] 2010 in art | Tags: painting demo, watercolor it’s a painting of the little fountain in my friend marie’s backyard in dublin.  i loved it when i saw it, took pictures and got them developed way back in […]

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