Spirits and Ghosts

Elizabeth died last week.

The advantage of people dying long distance is that it doesn’t seem real. I’m grateful I knew her. She named her daughter after herself: Grace. I’ll never forget her smile and her wonderful husky voice. She always reminded me of young Elizabeth Ashley without all the baggage.

It really sucks that she died, and it also sucks that she had such a terrible battle with cancer. The whole injustice of it, combined with lots of other stuff, has me in a bit of a funk. I would be questioning God like crazy but most of what I read in the Bible has me questioning God already. But I do believe she’s in a beautiful place right now. I wish that didn’t sound so trite and euphemistic. So I’m just going to shut up about it.

Meanwhile, I’ve been surfing around a bit finding out the sitch on my 30th high school reunion. I’m pretty sure I’ll go, but it amazes me how many demons Idaho brings up in me. Unlike most of the folks I know who battle devils, mine stem from location rather than family. Every time I start screwing around googling people I knew in high school, a wave of malaise creeps up on me. So naturally, I google more and feel worse.

I think or at least hope the trip will help exorcise things. I’ve been looking for momentum to finally get Fly, a novel I wrote some years back but have never been able to get momentum on agent/selling-wise, out the door, and I think it’s what I need; in fact, I’ve wanted to check the location for ages just to see if I remember it. I haven’t been, after all, in about 25 yeas.

I think the thing that pushed me harder today than anything else was hearing of a woman I knew who died, I have no idea when or how. I do know that she was very cute and sparkly when I knew her; funny, outspoken, and quick. Then I saw her a couple of years after high school, married to a guy who I’d always thought was extremely uptight, and it was like all the color had drained out of her. She looked really tired. Now mind you, I saw her one time and she had young kids; that can drain the color out of anyone. But it’s definitely an image I’ve never been able to shake.

So hearing about her death, I started thinking of all the people I know in Idaho who committed suicide – not that she did, apparently she had some weird wasting disease. But the despair around the place is so palpable. I felt enormous sadness in Idaho; I never felt accepted, primarily due to my status as one of 3 non-Mormons in a class of 200 (one converted mid-senior year). But I never felt despair. But I guess that’s because I always knew I was going to get out.

Of course, a lot of people don’t agree with me, and can’t think why anyone would want to leave that neck of the woods. One of the last times I saw anyone from high school, things got fairly heated. She insisted that something was wrong with me for wanting to go, and I none too diplomatically suggested the opposite with all the passion of a 17-year-old who hadn’t yet figured out how to use her brain. Thank God those days are in the past.

Now I halfway think I’m crazy to want to go anywhere near the place. But I’ve learned from the spouse that when battling demons, sometimes it’s best to go full out on their turf.

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