Saturday, June 16, 2012

all my life

Last spring, I was still working in a tiny office, phone ringing nonstop, furiously trying to keep people happy. It wasn't always easy: There were grumpy patients, other departments demanding their needs be met first, the undesirable evening shift when we flew by the seat of our pants while the people with answers were at home watching The Bachelor. But no matter how frenetic it got, my partner in crappy hours and multitasking, Eileen, always kept things entertaining.

She had a joyous laugh. She was so sweet with the patients, especially the very young and the very old, and she was so very thoughtful to everyone. Eileen was going to use her experience working in a floral shop to assist us with those paper flowers and was already suggesting all kinds of awesome ideas. She took a lot of pleasure demonstrating moves she picked up watching Bollywood dance numbers on YouTube that she planned to show off at the wedding.

***

We had asked our guests to add song requests to their wedding invitation RSVPs. A surprising number of people interpreted that as a request for first-dance recommendations, including Eileen. She gave me a list of about five, all slow-dance jams. But, she insisted, we absolutely HAD to play her alltime favorite, "All My Life" by K.C. & JoJo. So we added it to the list.

***

The music at our wedding was fabulous. A coworker had recommended a cousin duo of industrious Indian college students who had played her daughter's sweet sixteen party. One of them played the dhol, which was right up my alley. They were responsible and punctual and worked with our list. And the dholi absolutely rocked the house. The only beef I can think of was that I wanted them to play "Personal Jesus" as an homage to the mosh-type circles we had in college every time that song came on, and how I would try and keep up with all the boys. I should have clarified that I meant the Depeche Mode version, because instead they played Marilyn Manson's cover. I guess I can't blame those college kids; they weren't even alive when the original came out in 1989. Ol' Marilyn got the job done, but I think the Auntie Patrol was a bit frightened.

***

By the end of the night, when people were munching on McDonald's cheeseburgers and the bartender with moves straight out of Cocktail was trying to convince my brother to have a "slop shot" (a shotglass full of the spilt liquor from the little plastic mat on the bar--he didn't go for it), I realized that I had yet to hear a single slow song. Amazingly, Jon was actually out there, even though he'd never be caught on a dancefloor unless it's during a slow song. Your wedding day truly is a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Suddenly the deejays were announcing the evening was coming to a close, and the last song was going to be a slow one. My new husband took me in his arms as I caught the first few bars of that piano, and the tears began to flow. Of all the great slow songs on the list, they went with Eileen's number-one choice. I cried onto Jon's shoulder until the lights came up.

There were a lot of people I wished could have been with us on that day.

***

A week later, on our honeymoon, Jon and I were on a white-water rafting trip in Costa Rica. Soaked, tired and sore, we were really happy. Suddenly a butterfly landed on my leg and refused to fly off, no matter how I gently tried to shoo it away. Most likely it was interested in the watermelon juice I had dribbled all over myself, but I chose to believe Eileen had come by to say hello. She loved butterflies.

***

Today, Eileen would have turned 35. She died unexpectedly a week before her birthday last year, and never got to show off her moves at our wedding. I made a purple paper rose and kept a purple set of the bangles that we gave out as favors. Her best friend put them on her grave. It would have been great to see her face light up when she heard her request come over the speakers. I'm pretty sure that for the rest of my life, the song will always make me cry.

2 comments:

Guyana-Gyal said...

It's been one year now?

Time will heal all, I know this sounds like a cliche, but it's so true.

velocibadgergirl said...

This is a wonderful tribute to someone who sounds like a wonderful lady <3