Last night I spent hours going through all the footage from a (sort of) one-woman show I wrote and produced years ago called The Purple Sleep Cafe, and which I was fortunate enough to have filmed. And I was going through the footage so that I could edit together an excerpt from the show that was about my relationship with my childhood friend and true savior during a difficult childhood. I had idolized and now immortalized “Nene,” but she never knew about the show, as we’d lost touch in adulthood. The last time I saw her (which was one of the only times since childhood) was at my mother’s memorial service twelve years ago. We promised to keep in touch, and did for awhile, until eventually, as will happen, numbers got changed, leads ran dry, and we lost each other again.
She ran across my mind yesterday, and because of the advent of social media I realized the real feasibility of finding her. So I excitedly culled through the show footage of my tribute to her, so that I could post it on YouTube. It was actually a most joyous several hours of going back down Memory Lane, not only of the show I’d done (which actually climbed as far as Off-Broadway!), but of a childhood made special ONLY because of Nene’s presence in it.
The thought behind this effort was that I would get this footage up on YouTube, then find her on Facebook, reconnect, and send her the link to the video, which she has never seen. It would be the perfect way back to her.
Today I went onto Facebook, and sure enough (as is the magic of Facebook), found her. Only to learn, from a post that her daughter had made, that she passed away 6 months ago. My stomach rushed up into my throat, and I’ve scarcely breathed since. Who knew that in finally posting this footage, that it would end up being a memorial tribute instead of the entree into a reunion?
I sure do want to embrace the idea that true cosmic connections have occurred – that I would think of her, and put forth the labors to construct this gift, so shortly in the wake of her passing. But I am, instead, bitter and resentful of my own gut and gumption not to have pursued finding her before now. After all, how old is Social Media already? That lesson we’re all taught, time and time again, of not waiting for inspiration, but leaping now? How many more times do I have to lose someone without the chance to reach out, before finally getting that lesson through my thick skull?
I do realize I’m being very self-punishing right now. The news is only hours old for me. Perhaps I should’ve waited until I was in a better place to write here. Except that I simply could not wait another instant to share this footage, to celebrate my friend, to lift her up, and call her glorious. The bitter part of me says: “too little too late.” The part that is full of grace says: “look at this remarkable gem that you get to keep forever, of this time in your life, this love of your life.” I am grateful for grace. And I am forever grateful for this love of my life.
This is a memoir of sorts, of one of the most special friendships I’ve ever had.
Angela Carole Brown is the author of three published books, The Assassination of Gabriel Champion, The Kidney Journals: Memoirs of a Desperate Lifesaver, and Trading Fours, and has produced several albums of music and a yoga/mindfulness CD. Bindi Girl Chronicles is her writing blog. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram & YouTube.