Friday, July 18, 2008

Time in a Bottle ... Linda

The Voices in My Head have had “Time in a Bottle” running on a continuous loop for the last year and a half or more. Since we first received the news that my sister-in-law, Linda, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). I suppose it’s a common wish, that we could capture the special moments of our lives and put them in a bottle that we could open when we needed to most. If we could only pack up the pieces of our lives and put them into little boxes labeled “this” and “that” and “things we’ll never need” (thank you, Rick Rock). Maybe add another box for “things we’ll never forget”. If we could only have a few worn leather satchels in which to carry our memories, we could open them when life suggests we still need to remember.
We do, to some extent, of course. Sometimes we are lucky enough to capture those moments on film and we put the images in pretty frames to set around our homes. It’s a visual aid, of sorts. We will always have our memories, but these are like proof to us! We can share our memories with others. If you look around the room, your memories are smiling back at you, and because of this, you are never alone. Never sad or lonely.
That’s the idea anyway.
I remember the first time I met Linda, although I have no photographic evidence of the occasion! It was a summer evening in Iowa. Linda stopped by Jerry’s house to “see his new girl”, which I thought was terribly funny at the time! She was wearing black shorts and an orange t-shirt, little black Keds with white rubber trim and orange socks. Her long brown hair was in a high ponytail captured with two ribbons, one orange and one black. She was probably right around thirty at the time, but she looked much younger! She looked like a little junior high cheerleader, I half expected her to jump up and touch her toes, “Go Tigers!” She certainly had the pep to pull it off!
She was squirrelly and giggly and I loved her instantly!
Linda was sitting on the shabby green carpeting, seeming not at all to mind, when we heard a knock on the door. Jerry’s house (shared with three other bachelors) was across the street from one of the Wells Blue Bunny ice cream plants, and at the door stood one of the night watchmen. He questioned us about 2 little boys sleeping in the car in front of the house. Linda got that look on her face ... that “Doh!” look that she shares with all her boys. That look that seems to suggest, although they just got caught with their hand in the cookie jar, they find it just as funny as the rest of us!
Linda ran out to the car and I thought that was the last of her for the night. But I was wrong. She was back in 2 minutes with the standard family line I’ve come to expect, “They’re fine!”
That was the first of a million memories I have with Linda. We are going to visit her next week and I couldn’t be more thrilled! ALS is a tragic, heart-wrenching disease that is stealing my friend and sister, but I refuse to let it steal our time. I can’t wait to see her! She is a frail fraction of the vivacious woman she once was, but she is still Linda! She is still our champion and muse! I can see that little bubbly cheerleader mom in there and she is beautiful!! She’s still wacky little Linda who makes us all laugh and keeps us all in line! She’s still my hero. She’s one of the thirteen reasons I married into this big ol’ crazy family and I want to capture each and every moment we have together.
If I could save this time in a bottle, I really would save every day like a treasure, again, just to spend them with the people I love.
Linda, I will see you in a few days!! I love you, girl!!


Anonymous said...

Tell Linda "hi" for me along with as many of the other 13 who happen by. I think your sentiment speaks for all of us, whether we lose friends to illness or distance. They will always be in our hearts.

Becca said...

My husband's cousin, Michelle, sent me this message and I wanted to share it here:

"Your story for Linda touched me so much, I couldn't write back for awhile. You know when you grow up in the country, your neighbors are your family...but I always feel so lucky that our neighbors....really were our family! I have so many wonderful memories and you captured Linda's spirit in your story. She always seems carefree but yet you know that she is such the big sister looking out for everyone! My heart breaks for her condition and I pray for her and the family."

Thank you, Michelle.