One year ago today, fortune collided with fortitude giving way to a Roesing trip to Chagrin Falls for the 4th. I have a hard time knowing whether to characterize the year that followed as the shortest or the longest of my life. Perhaps it was both. Longest because of the perspective that hindsight provides. Shortest because of the ease that I can shed the weight of the last 365 days and revive the joy that I felt making the 6 hour drive to Chagrin last July to see Linds. It feels like no time has passed at all. With her transplant and the accompanying isolation receding into the distant past and no knowledge whatsoever of what the future held, the 4th represented a purgatory of sorts. With purgatory came freedom, optimism, excitement, and an endless list of possibilities of what was to come. My memories of that trip, which are very candidly the last days I spent with a truly healthy Lindsay, are some of my favorite. Not only because they are vividly recent, but because they best represent her unbridled love of life; her ability to file away what can only be described as the longest winter of her life and feel genuinely happy. We packed so much living into that trip.
She only allowed me a polite few minutes to drop my bag in her room and change before we were off to the Mexican restaurant where Libby worked to have dinner with her friend Amanda. Pomegranate mojitos (hers was Virgin) and fish taco eating ensued. Amanda told us about her upcoming job interviews and potential move to Chicago. I'll never forget how excited and supportive Linds was. Here was one of a small group of friends that remained in Chagrin, and instead of feeling any kind of sadness, resentment, or jealousy listening to Amanda's departure plans, Lindsay could not stop smiling. "Chicago will be amazing! You deserve it!" she said. Linds knew her time would come and was always more than willing to live vicariously through others. She had me up early the next morning to get to Chagrin Yoga. She had been going regularly the last few weeks and the yoga instructors knew her by name. She glided in introducing me to everybody and scoping out spots for our mats so that we could stand right across from each other. This was a priceless arrangement for a relative yoga beginner as I spent most of the class struggling through the poses awkwardly and attempting to contain my laughter as Lindsay made hilarious facial expressions at me when no one was looking. She kicked my ass in that class, and subsequently consoled me with the assurance that she had at least a month's advantage. Plus she felt stronger than ever.
On to hiking in the MetroPark with Chip. She adored Chip and treated him as a distinguished little man who required the utmost attention on our hike. She made sure he didn't get in altercations with bigger dogs and was careful to find a rock for him to sit on as we settled in by the water to hypothesize about the lives of the family a few rocks over. On the way back, I could tell she was breathing heavily, but she was determined not to let it slow us down. It didn't. We refueled at Parkside, where she was recognized immediately and greeted emphatically by all the staff. We couldn't stop talking about how much we loved Chagrin, and how happy she was to be able to reacquaint herself with all the things she liked most about it.
On Saturday night, we went on a dinner date to West End Bistro. She looked beautiful that night and confidently ordered a club soda from the bartender in a bold attempt to flirt. We ordered multiple courses, shared a dessert, discussed career goals, upcoming events, life ambitions, and the works. I begged her to let me split the bill, but she absolutely wouldn't allow it.
Of course the highlight of the weekend was dinner and fireworks at the Country Club on the 4th. Everyone was elated to see her out and about and looking amazing. People were dying to know all about her, and she found a way to graciously redirect the conversation to any other topic. Including me. I had celebrity status that day as Lindsay's best friend. Having mastered which foods I would actually eat at the buffet, she strategized ways to divide and conquer. She would sneak two lobster tails if I would double up on corn. And get another citron and tonic for God's sake. We ate to our heart's content along with Billie and John and their family friends. Never to miss a social event, she insisted we buzz over to Putter's party down the street before fireworks to show our faces and see Kathryn, so she snuck a Heineken into her purse for me to drink in the car and off we went. We managed to socialize for 30 minutes flat before we had to be back to the Country Club/ We rushed in right as the first firework was launched. She found us a spot on the ground away from her parents (to maintain our image), and we sat side by side as we reveled in the cliche of our Fourth of July together.
In retrospect, the weekend's display was typical for Lindsay. But it was the improbable timing that made it feel propitious. A four day stretch that gave life to her mantra "endless summer." I will always feel grateful that the stars aligned, that the metaphorical clouds parted, and that life made way for a firework or two.
Happy Fourth of July all!