Saturday, July 07, 2007

Bitter and Sweet. Mostly Bitter.

Last Wednesday, Jon and I had our orphan friends Bill and Nancy over for dinner. Bill's wife is a firefighter and was working her typical 24 hour shift, while Nancy's husband was on a business trip in California. As we were wrapping up dinner, my work phone rang. I thought it odd, but figured it must be someone on the west coast forgetting the time difference and dismissed it. Minutes later, my cell phone rang. I noticed that it was my friend Tricia from Florida but because we had company and were having dinner, decided to let it go to voicemail. When the home phone rang, I thought something was amiss and answered. Reliving what I heard from the voice on the other end of the phone still makes my throat clench.

Tricia: "Leila was killed in a car accident."
Me: "What?"
Tricia: "Leila was killed in a car accident."
Me: "What?"

Tricia: "Leila was killed in a car accident."

I fell silent for what felt like forever. I think I believed that if I stopped speaking, time would slow, my mind would stop racing, and this voice would stop filling my head with seven simple words that suddenly made no sense.

When I finally mustered my voice, my response was "What do you mean?"

As if "Leila was killed in a car accident" could be any less plain.

When I was in college, the Baruch sisters: Leila, Shena, and Estelle, were famous--at least in Gainesville, Florida. Each one of them beautiful, infinitely talented, fiercely loyal, wickedly smart, and terribly sweet in their own unique way, but to know one was to know each of them. The sisters were a package deal--when I befriended Shena because our boyfriends were house mates, I instantly had not one, but three new friends.

It is hard to believe that was 15 years ago and naturally, so much has changed since then. Shena moved to California and back, married and now has two children. Estelle is engaged and living in Tel Aviv, making music in Elephant Parade. Leila moved to St. Augustine to be closer to the surf and married four years ago. She and her husband were expecting their first baby, Lloyd Asberry Davis, IV. Leila was seven months pregnant when she and her baby died.

So what is the sweet? Certainly it wasn't the tears or the seemingly infinite sadness that rocked this group of family and friends. Sweet wasn't the space left by the loss of a daughter, sister, wife, niece, and friend. Sweet wasn't the loss of a baby boy, surely destined to uphold his legacy of grace and talent.

If there is to be any sweetness, it is in the reminders. Being reminded of the details about Leila that were so much a part of her as to be indistinct until now. Being reminded of the impact she had on so many lives, as evidenced by the numbers in attendance at her funeral service. Being reminded of who your friends are by their desperation to do something, anything, to help soothe the pain.

We would all take Leila and baby Lloyd back in place of these reminders but we were not consulted.

As Shena said so poignantly, "Grief is just love. Grief is love that has no place to go."

Leila Jean Baruch Davis
May 23, 1970 - June 27, 2007

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Happy 4th of July!

Yesterday marked 231 years since the United States of America declared Independence from the United Kingdom, congrats to all for staying free! Most Americans celebrate with a leisurely day of rest, beer, barbecues, and the evening fireworks. Kate spent the early part of the week in Florida with friends, remembering the life of another friend who was abruptly taken from this world. I know they didn't have a festive time, rather it was probably a healing time. I was up early because there was a bike ride in Cary. I rode the fastest ride in my brief cycling history. I kept up with the leaders until they decided to run a red light to lose the main pack, so much for the cyclist's etiquette or safety! My race stats can be found by clicking on the picture below.

Map of Firecracker 100K 2007