Former high school classmate. One-time boss.
Lover of the frenetic. Adopter of strays.
Friend. Kick-ass Scrabble player.
Jean, is gone. Gone. Gone.
Yesterday morning I cried in my oatmeal as I reckoned with the fact that she wasn’t going to be keeping her promise to kick my ass up and down the block in Scrabble this winter. Or maybe she will, this is Jean after all. Who knows what happens from the great beyond. I just know that my friend has died and I feel a terrible sadness at the void she left behind.
Jean had one of those big, old, creaky South Minneapolis homes with the big picture window and lots of woodwork. It sits on a major street across from Powderhorn park and I would stop in every time I drove by. If she was home we’d have a minute or two to hang out and catch up. If not, I’d stuff a note in her door and hope that she got to it before the dogs had a chance to eat it.
Her front porch, with a great view of the park, is a place where she has welcomed friends and friends-yet-met to gather for food, drink or conversation. It’s been rare that I’ve stopped by and she didn’t have something going on. Playing a scrabble game with a dear friend, cooking up food for a potluck, waiting on a sister or two to swing by, or a visit from her beloved grand-babies.
Jean rocked life. We didn’t talk much in high school. I was the bookish nerd that hung in the shadows. She was smart and loud, and tough, and occupied center stage with the other loud and tough kids. I left high school and didn’t looked back. That is until a few years ago when age prompted me to start dumping some of the old and stupid baggage I’d been dragging for far too long. I saw Jean at a friend’s birthday party and we laughed at the foolishness of our youth and the price of wisdom.
Since then we’ve gotten together whenever I came back to The Cities. I stopped by her place about a month ago to check in. She was looking at spending the winter cooped up and convalescing. I was looking at spending the winter in one place. We smiled at the similarity on scale and grateful for the opportunity to hang out more. There would be many chances for games of Scrabble, and brunch, and coffee.