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It’s nearly noon on Sunday, March 30, 2008, and I, Arlene Millicent, am still lying in bed, my mind back in grief mode (involuntarily, but not unexpectedly). I feel useless, drained, broken, lonely, as though I’ve been stabbed and left to bleed to death.
Anyway, I force myself to get up and eat breakfast and spend an hour or so on the computer before finally going back upstairs with a stack of lined paper. I, Arlene Millicent, am going to write my heart out to Maxwell.
The most glorious thing about writing is that an author can put on paper the words that fear denies the voice to speak. Uninhibitedly and unabashedly, I write everything I think to say.
This is the first time I’ve felt any sense of freedom since the phone call that turned my world upside-down. My world certainly won’t be aligned on its axis today, but I’ll take the journey to set it straight.
I, Arlene Millicent, am embarking on a journey of liberation, just like Maxwell took throughout his struggle with illness-except that in my case, I’ll still be alive when I reach my destination.
Diane, Ellen, and I came up with the offbeat idea to wear wild, colorful bandannas to Bible study tonight-just because…well…no reason at all. I choose a zebra-striped bandanna that matches my black-and-white getup.
Today-Monday, March 31, 2008-I, Arlene Millicent, did not feel like wearing one of my outlandish, vibrant graphic tees or a pair of my outrageous shoes. I didn’t intentionally wear black, either, but Diane, Ellen, Landry, and the rest of our Bible study group will surely believe I did when they inevitably find out about my catastrophic weekend.
We load the groceries into Ellen’s car and drive back to the student union, where our Bible study group congregates every Monday night. Prayer hour will begin as soon as we get the food set up on the table.
When Diane, Ellen, and I make it to the group’s reserved room, only Joel is already there. He’s speaking tonight, so he takes a last look at his notes while we ladies set up the ‘buffet line’ (an archaic social situation, but whatever; I don’t care right now).
“Joel, are you ready to open prayer hour?” Diane asks him when we’re through.
“Yeah, sure,” he casually replies. As comfortable as they seem around each other, Diane and Joel would make a great couple (I, Arlene Millicent, am not alone in believing that). Sometimes they have tense moments, but they know how to pick out each other’s strengths and weaknesses-and how to implement them. It reminds me of…me and Maxwell. He and I were exactly that way.
Remembrance is agonizing when you have happy moments in the past that won’t lend themselves to the future. Unless angels can make appearances on Earth, Maxwell is unreachable right now. That makes me regret what I didn’t get to say to him.
Diane has already said the opening prayer, so now everyone is taking their own seats-except for Joel, who is walking around and fervently speaking in tongues to God. I take the far corner of the room and sink to the floor. I them proceed to freely cascade my every feeling and thought to God, only this time I’m not writing it down. I’m saying it, ungracefully yet purely candidly choking it between convulsions and tears. And I, Arlene Millicent, am completely shameless.
“Did you actually fall asleep over there, Arlene?”
“No.” I don’t explain to Diane that after I ran out of words and air, I laid on the floor with my eyes closed and my ears open, simply listening to the silence until the others began filing in and I listened to their random chatter. Despite not wanting to, I made myself get up before Joel announced the commencement of the meeting.
I spot Landry standing next to the table on my right, so I greet him. “Hey, Landry.”
“Hey, Arlene. Are you okay?”
I love how Landry isn’t afraid to express what he senses. “No, I’m not okay,” I truthfully reply. “A very good friend of mine from high school died last week, and his funeral was on Saturday.”
“Arlene, that’s terrible. I’ve never lost anyone close to me like that, but that has to be awful. I’m sorry, Arlene.”
I know that Landry can’t fully fathom what it’s like to lose someone forever, but I don’t want him to. The last thing I would wish on anyone would be to have to live the nightmare of such grief.
Like just about every time Landry and I say anything at all to each other, we continue talking as though Joel won’t be speaking in ten minutes. I love it now more than ever.
And I don’t want Landry to be sorry; I want him to be glad that he’s still here, because I, Arlene Millicent, sure am.
"Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not."-Jeremiah 33:3, King James Version
"Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path."-Psalm 119:105, New Living Translation
The present and future are not about who you were in the past-rather, they are about who you are and who you will become.
"Writing is truly glorious in that an author can put on paper the words that fear denies the voice to speak."-from my short story, "Set Free"
"...What you feel is what you are;
What you are is beautiful..."
-from "Slide" by the Goo Goo Dolls
Life surprises you! And I'm talking about the good stuff, because a bad surprise is not a surprise at all, it is just shock and horror. All of these good surprises, they are rewards, and the things that happen to remind you that you matter and that you should make yourself faithful so that you can be deserving of all of life's good surprises. Every wonderful surprise in life is a chance to flourish, so grab life by the horns-but don't ride, steer instead: life's horns are life's joystick. You can handle it, because your life's horns are made especially for you. If you don't give up, all of this will hold true and life will continue to surprise you.
Aubri, a. k. a. "Leopard Lady"