Friday, October 10, 2014

Dearest Elizabeth

Dearest Elizabeth,

I've been thinking about you for a few months.  It's funny how people pop into our minds and hang out there for some random reason.  You can't know how many times I said to myself  "I must call Liz" and how many times I procrastinated.  You are one of only three of my friends who don't use email and when you called me a few years ago, you told me that you were not a computer user and I understood.  You sounded happy and relaxed, the way I remember you always having been.  Uncomplicated, a role model for living a simple and meaningful life.  You did just fine without modern technology.  Good for you, my friend.

I remember when we first met.  Your brother Bob brought me to your home on Court Street in Provincetown.  I think I was all of seventeen and you, nineteen, already a mother to the most adorable baby boy in the entire world, Aaron.  How could he not have been beautiful, that little Portagee who had your same lovely face, the same big brown eyes that held a glow as if they were lit by candles.  You, a single mom, living a simple life with your parents who adored your son and sacrificed anything and everything they had to make a home for both of you.  Your home became a place, so familiar and comforting to me, that I can walk through it in my mind to this day.  White walls, a pantry, a kitchen for gathering, a narrow set of stairs that led up to the three bedrooms that belonged to you and your two brothers.  Did you parents even have a bedroom of their own?  Your brother was my first real boyfriend and you accepted me into your heart as if I would one day become his wife, from the very moment we met.  And it was from that very first moment that I started to share with the world my thoughts on your amazing beauty and your sweet, sweet personality.  But, I always wondered if you wanted more in your life.  It was so hard to tell.  You were so totally in love with your baby and rarely complained about being so young and so out of the game already.

I remember Jennifer Milley and I, both young and poor nursing students.  Together, we scraped together three dollars and bought Aaron a little shirt.  You would have thought we had paid for his college, you were so grateful and gracious.  Your manners were impeccable, your formal education, so limited. But, my friend, you ran rings around the better educated and more-privileged people I then knew or have since.  You were so wise and so practical and I knew your wanted more and one day, you found it.  Along came your friend, Tommy Turner.  "Tucker" was what we all called him.  He became spellbound, fell madly in love with you and your baby boy and you found a way to love him back, knowing that he was going to provide you with happiness and security, the two things that were missing in your beautiful life.  And, you did marry him.  It was winter, wasn't it?  I can't recall the date but I know that as your maid of honor, I wore purple velvet, my dress recycled as a short version of the one I wore to Cam's wedding as a bridesmaid, months before.  I don't think your brother was my boyfriend but maybe he was.  My memory serves me best as I think of you and Tommy on that day and then the nice little house in Truro; Aaron had his own room, a back yard, and a daddy who adored him.  Next in your new life, a baby girl and another great honor for me, not only a namesake, but a first godchild, Jennifer Lynn Turner.  Now, you had two babies to share.  I was so happy for you and so happy for myself.  Tommy worked hard and his pride grew by leaps and bounds to the point of a near heart-burst on that day we all christened the "Jennifer Lynn" at Rock Harbor. I had a new boyfriend by then and Joe came to love you all in the same way I did.  Family.

My thoughts always seem to find you in a summer maternity blouse, sliding down the slide into the swimming pool at my parent's Eastham house.  Pregnant with Rachel.  Another beautiful baby for the Turner family. And I wondered how you were dealing with Tucker's drinking and his black-outs and hoped to God that you would all make it through, that your happiness would one day return and that you and Tommy could be as you were back there on Court Street, filled with love and hope.  I admired you for your fortitude and heard you say unhappy things for the first time since I had met you, years before. Tough times, loss, your marriage started to seem strained.  I was sure that you wanted more in life. But, you held your place as a woman who I loved and admired, one from whom I had learned and would learn so much more.

There are things I have already forgotten in my life, things that I am sure occurred but my brain has not held on to but Elizabeth, I will, to my dying day, never forget your phone call on that July evening.  I wasn't until I had to tell my own mother and my own children, that it became real and that I cried.  I still can't imagine it all. Your beautiful babies, their grandmother, a head-on collision.  The wake, the funeral, your sobs....."my babies...." Your baby girl, laid to rest in the white dress that I had made her for her First Communion only months before. Your baby boy's big brown eyes, no longer lighting up his beautiful face.So many years ago and I can bring myself back to that day, those moments, see the floral pieces, feel the emptiness and know that you wanted anything in life now, but this.

Again, I found my self enthralled by your amazing talent for living.  I know that it took time and finally, Tucker, to bring you back to life by telling you that you had jumped into the grave with your children and he,who had lost children and his own mother, needed you to be there for him and for your little Rachel and for yourself.  And so, you restored your beauty and Tommy kept his vow to not abandon his sobriety, the vow he made on the day of the funeral when he said "I quit drinking for my kids so I'll be damned if I am going to start again now that they're dead".  And then, another baby for you to love, Ryan.

I don't know what transpired in the years before you and Tucker fell apart. I won't even venture a guess at what finally destroyed your dreams but perhaps when it was all said and done, you found out what I had been wondering all those years, that you really did want more and when I last visited you on the Cape, miles away from Provincetown and Truro, I recognized it and rejoiced and then you moved to Maine and I lost touch with you.  But, I knew you had re-discovered happiness and hoped for the best for dear Tucker.  I'm sure that the best, was you, and doubt that he ever found anything better in his life,but maybe.

What I do know is that he said the loveliest things about you last summer.  I found this out through the "grapevine," from a mutual friend that I did not even know we had, one who I had only recently discovered to have grown up in P-town.  I asked if she knew you and she told me that she was at your funeral and that Tommy "spoke" lovingly. And then she added that it was so sad, his death only six months after yours.  She told me something that I had already known, that she thought that you and Tommy always shared a love, through it all.  I would have thought the same.

And now, I'm sad, so very, very sad Elizabeth.  I cry when I think of it all, from the very start to the end, one, that as a friend,  I should have known was coming.  And I wonder if you are buried near your babies in Truro and I hate myself for not making that phone call, a long time ago.  At least, I now know why you have been on my mind.  Perhaps your spirit surrounded me and wanted me to know that you were back with Tommy Tucker and your babies.  I can't help but think that is what you always wanted. But you waited patiently and lived a sweet and simple and love-filled life. Of that,  I'm certain.  I can still see your smile and I pray it never left you.

Rest in peace, all of you. And thank you for sharing the best parts of your lives.


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