Last week I mentioned childhood influences and how habits we learned as children can continue into adulthood. I also mentioned my childhood best friend’s mom. At that time, she was ill and today I am writing about her in past tense because she has passed. Laurie was a bright soul. She always had a smile to share, and she simply eluded this air of freedom. As a woman and single mom now, looking back at her life, I can see instances where she must have gone through hell, but as a child in her presence, that never translated. Even when she was ill, she didn’t want to burden people. Most of her life, if not all of it, was spent helping others. Laurie was a second mom to many of us in the neighborhood and you can see her reach by the amount of us surrounding Sappho at this time.
What fascinated me, a lanky nerd, was her collection of books. She always had bookshelves full of books. Even now, one of the first things I did was go over to her bookshelf and peruse the titles. I laughed because as I mentioned to her cousin that day: “leave it to Laurie to have the whole bookset of Laws of St. Maarten”. She was a teacher at the Prins Willem Alexander school and she loved those kids. I can still remember spending Saturdays in the school with her as she gave extra lessons or was simply preparing her classroom for the week ahead. As loving as she was, she was also a no-nonsense woman. We were free to explore but don’t test her boundaries. When I think of Laurie, I think of black Levi’s jeans and black top with black platforms, her gold bangles, her hoop earrings, a Marlboro red cigarette in one hand and a Coca Cola in the other with her brown waves flowing in the air. I saw her sick and yes, she was changed, but the memory of that little lady overpowers the final images. Her spirit lives on in each of us whose lives she has touched, who grew into themselves under her roof. What I know about Jews mainly comes from her. My love of basketball and especially my love for the Bulls ( Michael Jordan era) comes from her. I can’t think of Carnival and not think of Laurie.
Honestly I didn’t start this as a memorial to her but this may be what I needed to express myself. Words create worlds, but sometimes the silence can hold as much meaning. Over a year ago I told her how I felt and everything she meant to me. My final goodbye last week was in silence. The past few days visiting with Sappho and being surrounded with everyone from my childhood has brought back so much memories, even memories I dont remember. Bonds were created when all we cared about was riding our bikes or going to the beach and those bonds are still there today. Foundations are important. Even when everything else is lost, if the foundation is there, you can build back. There may be relationships we need to build back as we continue through this life.
As I get older, and more people I know pass away, it is a reminder to be a good person. We should try to be kind to others and help where we can. We have a chance every day to influence others simply by being who we are meant to be. It could be that you are the bright soul in someone’s life. And I know lately, suicides seem to be spiking, and it is important to check in with each other and let each other know our appreciation for them. Sometimes when a person is considering suicide, they feel like a burden, so hearing that someone cares for them or that they have helped others could help them. If you or someone you know is considering suicide, I would advise you to reach out to a professional who can help you. We are all only here for a short while and it is important to live life feeling loved and seen and return that favor when we can.