Time to Cowboy the Fuck Up
It started Tuesday July 24, 2018. 1/
“Car is there. I saw her walk Frank a couple hours ago.”
“Would you go check on her?”
Her daughter was laughing & they both playfully collapsed on the steps on top of the mattress. 9/
(Our checklist was ridiculous: wrap around front porch, fenced in yard, central air, no updating needed…) 10/
We bought the house. We got to be her neighbor after all. 13/
As I started up the driveway to check on M, there was no foreboding feeling; no sense of dread … Until the corner of my eye caught the arrival of a minivan pulling up to the front of the house. 14/
Just in case.
I ran around back. The stupid back door handle had been busted for weeks.
She often joked about barely finishing high school because she skipped gym class regularly. 21/
Things’ll be great when you’re…Downtown!
No finer place for sure… Downtown!
Everything’s waiting for you!”
As I heard the minivan door slide open out front, I turned the handle of the back door (“Turn the handle up, D. up! ) and it opened. Frank started barking the second I entered. It was 2:30 in the afternoon.
The lights were all off.
I dialed 911 and the dispatcher asked if she had a pulse. I felt her neck which was still warm, but I felt nothing. Her chest wasn’t rising and falling. 33/
I kept yelling that he needed to get the EMTs there.
I knew in that moment that everything was different. 34/
Within days of moving in across the street in Aug 2005, I knew M & I were connected. Yes, she almost didn’t graduate high school because she “didn’t like being sweaty” in gym. And yes I was getting my Ph.D. in politics & media at Penn. But we had chemistry! 35/
“What the FUCK do you put in this, Mike Young? It is Fucking Amazing.” 41/
He complained of a bright flashing light in his peripheral vision. The ophthalmologist suggested an MRI. 42/
For the better part of three days I cried. 44/
“What is it? What is going on over there? I’m coming over.”
“Zippitty DOO DA DAY. You do NOT talk like that, D.”
And she was fucking right.
It was brash and over the top and it was.... exactly what I needed to hear to get out of my own way and do what needed to be done. 51/
“Do you want to try CPR?” the dispatcher asked me again. “I can walk you through it.”
As I compressed her chest, I felt her breastbone snap under my weight.
I just continued counting and compressing, breathing my air into my friend as her eyes looked straight through me. 59/
She had eaten peanut butter crackers and I could taste them in her mouth.
And here she had eaten fucking peanut butter. 61/
In the months after Mike died, M and her family became my family. The boy and I ate dinner with them 2-3 nights a week. 64/
“D, did you check to make sure there’s no nuts in those cookies?” 67/
The guy with the small hands. The older gentleman who wore cowboy boots. The dude who wrote an erotic love poem to his cat that he sent to me via email. 71/
“You better not be giving my man a hard time over there! He’s the best thing that ever happened to you and he can do no wrong. Got it, D?” 76/
"When are you going to love me as much as M does?" he'd ask me. 77/
The next day, I saw my friend out walking Frank, 78/
“What do you think you’re doing sending my man GROCERY SHOPPING on FATHER’S DAY? Did you think you were gonna get away with that?” 79/
So, my texting someone to invite them to find Jesus is not like a normal thing.
“I’d love to!” she wrote back. 83/
“Your mother used to dress you up in ridiculous fishing hats in pink and orange plaid. We saved you from all that. You’re welcome.” 85/
“Do you know that your mother and Mike talked about making you buy your own toiletries?” she gestured accusingly at me. 86/
“Do you remember that, D?’ she turned to me in the pew. 87/
“Don’t worry, baby. If you need soap or shaving cream you come see Auntie M and I’ll have it stockpiled in the back shed!” 88/
“It’s been a week,” I said, tired and continuing to rake.
“Come over tonight. We'll catch up.” 90/
I did CPR on her on her kitchen floor three days later. 94/
And she lived right out my front window. 100/
I even asked my husband if he thought I needed to go to some facility to get my head on straight. 114/
I’ve been a mess, unable to work or write or socialize or sleep. And what I have needed to do is spend time writing about my friend. 117/
As she knelt and prayed after receiving communion that day, she looked back at me over her shoulder, “I’m gonna be here a while, D,” she winked, “I got LOTS to talk to him about.” 121/
I am cowboying the fuck up.