The Fluid Nature of Grief

Sometimes I think there’s a sixth stage of grief, right there after acceptance.  It’s happens when something catches you out of the blue and taps you in the back of the head — not particularly painful, but it causes you to take notice.  That happened to me today.

Let me back up.  Brandi and I were very best friends all through grade school and middle school.  We were inseparable, so much so that on one memorable occasion, we passed a particulary nasty case of head lice back and forth.  She was the first person who ever painted my toenails (we had this foolish idea that my mom, who had a no-nail-polish rule for quite some time, wouldn’t figure it out — she did).  We even broght the house down with our marvelous and nuanced performances as playing cards in a very, very gliterry local production of Alice in Wonderland.

We drifted, eventually, as adolescents do, and didn’t reconnect until adulthood.  I went away (a whole 90 miles) to college, and she went to beauty school and started cutting my mom’s hair (come to think about it, she may have been partially responsible for Brandi’s career choice, because she’d been a hairdresser before I was born, and cut and permed Brandi’s hair when we were younger).  Brandi was a gifted hairdresser, and embraced what she called her “natural electric pearl highlights” (stray silver hairs, which I seem to have inherited from her).  And she loved my mom — she had a tortured relationship with her own mother and I think she appreciated the relative stability my mother tried to give her.

She died (I originally wrote “passed away” but scratched it because “passed away” sounds too peaceful) on December 30, 2007 as a result of complications from an acute asthma attack.  She was 29 years old.

Anyway, I was reminded of her today, when I turned on the TV and found the movie Beetlejuice.  When we were in fourth or fifth grade, Brandi’s stepdad brought home a satellite dish and a projection TV (both of them enormous — it was the ’80’s, after all!).  We quite happily spent that entire summer indoors, watching over and over again Beetlejuice, Dirty Dancing, Hairspray (the original with Ricki Lake), and Spaceballs.  I can’t watch any of these movies today without thinking of her.  A couple of years ago, it would have been painful, but now it’s more of a warm fuzzy.

So, Brandi-Beth, wherever you are, I watched Beetlejuice for you.  And I’m rockin’ some sparkly purple toenails, too!  I know you’d approve.


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