the bittersweetness of pants


P.S. And if you think we’re not bringing a present, you’re on crack.
P.P.S. Did I ever tell you that I think “crack” is the second funniest word in the English language, after, of course, “pants”?
         -From an email from my friend Elizabeth, February, 2007

I have a confession to make. Pants has not always been my favorite funny word. In fact, I first borrowed pants from a friend. When I started this blog, two years ago today, pants was just another funny word to me, one of many. Subordinate to squid and banana, which topped my own internal hierarchy of funny words.

When I wrote my first pants post, in the earliest days of this blog, I wrote this:

A friend of mine considers pants to be the funniest word of the English language.

That friend was my dear friend Elizabeth, who at the time was in the midst of a 2-year-long struggle with cancer.

Elizabeth was very supportive of my blog. She told me that she read it regularly, that she found it funny. It was nice to know that she was reading, and it made me feel like I was more a part of her life than I had been in recent years. Elizabeth was an ideal reader for the craziness that is my blog. She loved lists, too, and liked to put things in order. She was a collector, too, of books. And movies and music. And she laughed at my jokes.

I often wrote things with her in mind. Sometimes expressly to cheer her up. Sometimes avoiding serious topics because I knew that she would prefer to be cheered.

Elizabeth didn’t really talk with me much about her illness. Every once in a while, though, she would pass along news of bad test results, and ask for distractions. My means of cheering her would be to post some silliness on my blog. Typically such silliness would involve pants.

As time went by, I took the pants for my own. I put on the pants and ran in them, as it were. Or ran with them. I’ve gotten much enjoyment from playing with my pants, and from sharing pants with others who get amusement from them.

But there will always be that bittersweetness associated with pants. I’ll never forget whose pants they were in the first place.

I am glad that you can find Elizabeth’s own voice running through my blog. She left comments here and there. And she once even let me post an anecdote of hers, which I called “many thanks for all the pants.”

It’s been quite startling how much she touched my life, though I’d seen her less frequently in the last few years.

In the 12 years of our friendship, we shared many things. We shared a deep love of books, and of reading. We met working at the bookstore, where we worked together for maybe 2 or 3 years. We were shopping buddies, occasionally for marathon outlet expeditions and more often on used bookstore binges. We loved to talk about movies and music and many other things, as well.

I find myself reminded of her by so many things in my daily life. References to movies that she loved, or that we saw together. Or the books that we both loved, or hated. The songs that she put on a mix tape for me. Songs that we sang along with. Artists that she introduced me to. My bookshelves, our DVD collection, our iTunes library are all packed with things that I associate with Elizabeth. I can’t read or see a reference to Pride and Prejudice, one of her favorite books, without thinking of her.

She was the friend who went shopping with me for my wedding dress, and helped me choose items for our registry. So it turns out that my kitchen, too, is filled with everyday items that sometimes remind me of my friend.

It is not too surprising, then, I have thought of Elizabeth every day this past year. It was many weeks before I could think of her without crying. Months, even. And still even lately there are thoughts that catch me by surprise, and the tears well up before I realize.

I think of her family. Her parents. Her husband. I imagine how awful their grief must continue to be. I think of her two beautiful and vibrant daughters, whose faces and laughter remind me of Elizabeth. I think of how terrible it must have been for Elizabeth to know that she wouldn’t get to see them grow up.

I have tried to write this post many times over the past year, but have always given up. The memories are still too raw, the grief too fresh.

This day, Novemeber 16th, will always be a bittersweet day.

It so happens that today is the anniversary of the day I started this blog, something that has enriched my life for the past 2 years. It has been an outlet for my creativity and silliness, and a means of making connections and building friendships at a time when I have otherwise felt isolated from the outside world.

It is also the anniversary of one of the saddest days of my adult life, as Elizabeth died a year ago today.

Let it be known that the word pants will always remind me of Elizabeth. I will forever treasure her sense of humor, her wit, and her friendship.

Many thanks for all the pants.

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22 responses to “the bittersweetness of pants

  1. Sending you a virtual hug. This was a beautiful post to read and left me with tears in my eyes by the end.
    ~Stacie

  2. The first post of yours I ever read was about her memorial service. The years go fast and slow all at the same time somehow.

    I’m so sorry for your loss, for the loss that is shared by so many who must have loved her so. She sounds like someone I would have liked. Pants and crack ARE quite funny.

    Hugs, Alejna.

  3. Beautifully written. What a wonderful friend. I’ve got tears all over my pants, now.

  4. What a beautiful tribute, A. I’m sorry for you loss.

  5. Really a beautiful paean to a friend.

  6. I’ve always had more of a teen-aged boy cadre of words I find funny, such as booger and spunk and finger, but you’ve convinced me.

    I’m sorry for the loss of your wonderful, funny friend. She was lucky to have a friend in you, too.

  7. Beautiful written and expressed, thank you for sharing.

  8. What a beautiful woman — and how well you have written about her.
    Happy Anniversary, and thanks for being here and thanks for sharing.

  9. This was a lovely entry. And Elizabeth sounds like a lovely person. You have made her come alive through your words – what a gift you have.

  10. This is the sweetest thing, Alejna.

  11. Thank you for reminding me about Elizabeth. Although I wasn’t as close to her as you were, she finds her way into my thoughts rather frequently.

    (((((Alejna))))

  12. Hey you. I remember last year. I remember reading about Elizabeth. I know what it means to have a friend like her . I am thinking of you tonight and wishing that we could go shopping, buy books, and talk about your memories of her.

  13. This is beautifully done. You’re a testament to your friend, truly. And thank YOU for the pants. There’s something very beautiful and touching about people willing to share their grief. It helps us all.

  14. What a beautiful post. I’m glad she has left you with many happy pants memories.

  15. i first fell for you b/c of the pants.

  16. A moving tribute that gave me a good sense of the wonderful friendship you and Elizabeth had. And you just reminded that I, too, have now been blogging for some two years and counting… :)

  17. I’m sorry. There are many times I will be somewhere in the midst of life and think, “Teri will never do this again. How she would have loved/hated/laughed about it.” But it feels a bit like sharing it with her anyway.

  18. So heartbreaking. Thank you for sharing.

  19. Pingback: a chance for pants « collecting tokens

  20. Pingback: ghost of the pants | collecting tokens

  21. Pingback: Welcome Back, Pants | collecting tokens

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