Essays

Just Too Young

For the second time in three weeks, I have learned of the death of an old friend. These two people who passed through my life many years ago; people whom for different reasons left my life. I cannot feel a personal loss to my being as I haven’t seen either one of them in many years, nor did we keep in touch, but I am affected by the cruelty of the timing of their deaths and by the circumstances surrounding them.

It seems that I have reached that place in my life, my parents already gone, that I will steadily begin losing my friends or at least my peers. I think that I am beginning again to see how fleeting my life is. In truth how fleeting life is altogether. I think of how I have been for so long holding life at bay, waiting for the “right” time to be who I am meant to be, to live the life that I am meant to live, to love the man I am meant to love. I’ve been so bogged down by responsibilities to others that I’ve left my hopes and dreams floating off in the distance.

Today was meant to be a day to reflect on myself, my work, take advantage of some down time. I was not supposed to work but I did (as usual) until I got the call from my ex-husband letting me know that someone I used to consider one of my best friends had passed away. Actually, she had over a long period drunk herself to death, dying of liver disease at only 42 years, and most tragically leaving behind a 14-year-old daughter.

Our friendship had ended badly, I had lost all trust in her, and she really broke my heart, among countless others I am sure. That said, the shock of her death, the actual surrealism of it has me reeling. I knew she started drinking about the time our friendship ended I knew she was coming to school functions drunk, but because I no longer considered myself her friend, I felt I had no place to say anything, surely there were others who would care for her, others who would call her on her behavior, her reckless driving her unusual bravado. She was spinning out of control even then and I think all of us in her life thought it was a phase, and she would get back to “normal”.

I’ve been away from the old neighborhood for many years and built a new life for my children and myself. I occasionally heard snippets of information through the grapevine. I knew that she had relinquished custody of her daughter to her husband, although I knew nothing of the circumstances surrounding that decision. I had never heard that she was ill, until today. All these years and apparently she had been committing a prolonged and slow suicide.

In the years that we had been friends she had been a kind and pretty devout Christian. She talked about God and the love for her family quite openly. I did recognize that as many women do, she wanted more out of life; she never defined it really, it was just a sense.

As a lot of women do when they feel trapped in a life, I believe she went looking for passion and adventure, and she leaped before she looked. She did something that harmed her family and her friendships; some, like ours, beyond repair. I think the pain of that, the guilt of becoming the woman she never thought she’d be; a woman capable of destroying many lives, I think was too hard to live with, so I believe she drank.

It’s amazing to me how we humans punish ourselves. I am no exception.

I think today of this person, I used to call my friend, the person that existed before the anger and betrayal. There was a soul there, tortured in some way perhaps, but still a soul that needed love like all of us. I hope sincerely that her soul is at rest, that her pain that ate her up has been lifted.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Deanna Marie Montano Guerin

It’s difficult to find the words to truly express what I am feeling at the loss of my dear friend Deanna. Although we have lived in different states for the past 20 years there always seemed to be a spiritual and psychic tie that held our friendship together. We somehow seemed to be around at the most necessary of times of loss and pain, but still had a joyful friendship full of laughter and naughty jokes (she had quite the sense of humor)

We met in Jr. High and sang together in the choir. I remember the pride we both felt at being able to sing both bass and soprano. I look back now and think we must have been delusional or at very least damaging our vocal chords, but it was fun and we were proud after all. Music always was a source of therapy for me and “Dan” was such an integral part of that. She had the most beautiful voice. Her Ave Maria brought tears to my eyes. We shared a love of James Taylor, John Denver, and Carole King and probably drove people nuts with our constant singing of 70’s pop songs.

Deanna had such joy in her heart. She experienced much loss and pain in her life and yet even in her darkest times she was able to smile and even laugh and come to a place of contentment. She shared that hope and faith so freely and seemed to always be able to pull those she loved out of their dark places.

Deanna gave so freely of herself and I owe my present life to her. I know this is cliché, but she truly was “The Wind Beneath My Wings”. Many years ago, I felt trapped in a lonely and unloving marriage. I was afraid of the judgment I would receive if I left. I was unsure of where my path would take me. Dan was there to listen, to hold my hand, to let me cry, all with no judgment. When I finally made the decision to leave (which meant leaving Tucson for California) I called her and told her and all she said was “Make sure you stop by to say goodbye.” When I did, she had made a care package for me with snacks and drinks and as was her style a red thong “so I could finally get some”.

Without her, I may not have made that trip. I would not have my lovely children and the life I now cherish. In that marriage, I was on the road to suicide, and she, being the selfless and wondrous friend she was, saw that and sent me on a new path. If ever there was an angel on this earth it was Deanna.

I like to think I was there for her too, and there are some moments that I know I was, but somehow they seem to pale in comparison. I cannot imagine a world without her in it, and I suppose because I didn’t get to spend much time with her in a physical sense, I won’t feel the same loss as her family and friends in Tucson. I will be able to continue to hold her in my heart as I always have, just a faraway friend, who is now just a little farther away. I know she will still be there whenever I need her.

Rest in Peace Dan

Love Forever,

Bob

From Deanna – 1987

I’ve been going through old treasures and found a letter Deanna gave to me when she sent me on way to California. I have tried from that day to be the kind of friend to others that she was to me; selfless and non-judgmental. I cannot say that I have always succeeded, but Deanna always stood as a beacon to the type of friend I want to be.

A never-ending love is what you have in me. No matter what you do or say we will always be. The Lord gave us all a real good message about judgment. One thing I need to do in my life is to keep trying not to judge people for their actions or words.

You need to be happy and I want you to be happy. Sometimes we have to anger people because we are not what they expected us to be or do what they expect us to do. We need to remember we were not put on this earth to live up to someone else’s expectations, but fulfill our own needs. I feel that as long as we don’t physically harm someone else in the process of life, we are not doing anything that will not be forgiven.

I love you and no one should be able to change that love I feel. I only want you to be happy with yourself – you don’t have to put up pretend fronts for me. I love you just the way you are.

I wrote this to let you know that you have my love and support in everything you do. I will always be there for you.

I do love you, Deanna”

She never failed me in our friendship; she gave of herself freely and never passed judgment. I will forever hold her love in my heart and try my best to emulate all she gave me.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007