When I was in my early-to-mid twenties, I was pretty entrenched in Mormon culture. I went to church in a singles branch, held various callings, church every Sunday, Family Home Evening on Mondays. Within our singles group, I was part of a smaller friend group. Just a group of early 20-somethings, going to college (or not), living on their own (or not), and trying to make the transition from teenage know-it-alls to adults: Mormon Edition
Kant, Hair, Line, Young Matthew, myself, and Mary.
Mary was an interesting sort. A few years younger than myself. Grew up the second child of 12. She was even my roommate for a spell. Mary and myself were as different as two people could be. She grew up in an intact family in church, my family was broken with just a whiff of Mormonism. My greatest drive was to go to college to get an education and not repeat the same trajectory as my parents. Hers was to find a nice priesthood holder to marry (in the temple) and have a big family much like what she grew up it.
I was jaded, and sarcastic, and fiercely independent. Mary was naive, soft, and hinging her whole life upon having a husband.
Living together only magnified our differences. As much as we got along like vinegar and baking soda, we both brought something to our small friend group. Despite her weaknesses, she had good qualities too. She liked to have fun. She had a smile for everyone. She was always the “young one” in the group, always careful about how she looked. The insufferable flirt, she would go through Peter Priesthoods like water through a sieve. One week, she would meet a guy and fall in love, the next week, she would have prayed about it and learned he was “the One”, and following week, it would be over because he “was a jerk.”
This pattern went on for so long, we started calling her Baskin Robbins with her Flavor of the Week. We didn’t hate her. We just wanted her to realize that she was more than whatever a life of Mormon culture honed her to be. A lot of her behaviors, we surmised, was her need for attention. I imagine that being in a family that large, attention can come in short supply.
Earlier this week, Kant sent me a message that Mary had passed away in her sleep earlier in the week. I had to pull the car over and re-read the message three times so I could understand just what she was saying. Mary dead? She can’t be! For starters, she’s too stubborn. Secondly, she’s too young.
She leaves behind four kids and a husband. My heart breaks for them. Mary may have been a pain in the ass, no one deserves to grow up without their Mommy or their spouse.
After the singles branch was disbanded, people moved away, went on missions, went on in their lives. Kant and I remained close, everyone just sort of drifted away. Mary seemed to be happy, but I don’t know for sure. She married and had kids. Her facebook page is full of “look how charmed my life is” posts. I really hope her life was amazing as she made it sound. I really do.
Her funeral is next week. Hair and I were going to go as we are the only ones left in town of our original group. True, neither of us had talked to her in 15 years or so, but she still belonged to an important part of our lives, however small it was compared the larger picture of our lives.
And we can at least honor that.
Like I said, she was a pain the ass. She liked to push my buttons (and knew exactly which ones to push), but at the end of the day, there was no one quite like her. My memories will always be of her when she was younger. Her on my family canoe trip sampling Rocky Road (i.e. my brother), her cleaning the apartment only when she was expecting a Flavor of the Week over for a visit. Her “Sausage Fondue” that was not fondue…it was a goddamn breakfast casserole. Her oh-so-delicious homemade banana cream pie (I have the recipe). Her almost burning down the apartment building because she didn’t know how a fireplace worked. Her shitty camp outs that I missed but had to hear about from everyone else. Her beautiful red hair, her sparkling blue eyes, and my jealousy because I thought she had it all.
I’ll carry you with me, Mary. You will not be forgotten.