Last Friday night my friend, Leslie and I went out. We’d had tickets to see David Sedaris since last December, when Leslie had called me at work from her car phone after hearing on NPR about David’s upcoming April appearance in Kansas City. “We’ve got to go!” she insisted. “Can you get the tickets now?”
“Now?” I said. “Like in right now? On the internet?”
“Yes! Get them now!”
Leslie had recently lost her beloved mother in a tragic car accident in September and had been having a difficult time, especially during the recent Christmas holiday. The sudden loss, without the opportunity to say goodbye, had left Leslie with the kind of regrets most daughters have when their mothers are so suddenly taken – regrets about petty differences and unfinished business, unresolved feelings and the knowledge that you should have been a better daughter. In the receiving line at her mother’s visitation, Leslie hugged me tight, and with tears in her eyes whispered, “Appreciate your mother now, while you have her. Cherish her, don’t fight, be glad she’s here.”
I’ve tried a lot harder since then, believe me. Now, whenever I try to explain some kind simple computer procedure to my mom (which I already know she won’t understand), and I can feel the tension headache start to throb in my temples, I try not to snip at her. I really, really try. And whenever she calls me in the middle of my busy work day and just keeps going on and on and on, I really try to end the call as nicely as possible even though I just want to shout, “I know you’re just sitting at home in your little retiree world, drinking your tea without a care , but SOME OF US HAVE TO WORK, OK?” I try, I really do.
Leslie already knew how much I adore David Sedaris – it’s one of the many things we share – along with being smoking buddies who love to laugh, cut up, drink, and be outrageous – so I was more than happy to order the tickets right then. Plus, it was good to hear excitement in her voice again. I had last seen her a couple of weeks earlier at a Christmas party. After a few too many drinks, our conversation turned to her mother, and her anger towards the driver of the other vehicle who had caused the wreck. Our crying was inevitable of course – Two drunk women + seriously sad conversation = Two drunk women crying. So I was definitely glad that Les was excited about the show.
We went out for dinner, had a couple of drinks and some great conversation. We got to the theater early enough to get a drink at the bar, and just as we were getting settled for some pre-show people-watching, Les looked at me earnestly and said, “I’m gonna tell you something and I don’t want you to think I’m crazy, OK?”
“OK” I said.
“Well, you know how hard things have been with mom gone & all? I had this dream about her the other night that was really, really great. I dreamed that she came to see me and I was so happy. I said, ‘Mom, where have you been? I’m so sad and I miss you so much.’ And my mom said ‘Girl, I’ve been in heaven, and in heaven you get the choice of eating desserts or talking to your loved ones, and you know how much I love sweets! Plus you don’t have to worry about getting fat here so I just eat dessert all the time!’ So then I said ‘What about God? What’s God like?’ and she said ‘Oh, you won’t believe it, sweetie – God is two and a half feet tall! And let me tell you, he DOES NOT like to have that pointed out to him.’ Then I said ‘Well what about Hell? Is it really hot and everything?’ and she said ‘Well, I don’t know about hell, but the devil walks around here all the time, and you won’t believe this – he looks like John Belushi!'”
Then she said “Isn’t that a GREAT dream?” I finally managed to stop laughing long enough to agree that yes, it was absolutely a great dream. Les went on to say that after she woke up, she felt a lot better about things, which is understandable. I’m still trying to get a mental picture of a 2-foot tall God and a John Belushi impersonator as the devil, but the part about getting to eat dessert all the time is definitely making me rethink my atheism.
The rest of the evening was good: David Sedaris was hilariously funny, there were a lot of people for Les and & I to make fun of, and the weather was absolutely perfect. I’m glad she made that call way back in December to insist we buy tickets right then. But most of all I’m glad to see she’s healing from the terrible, terrible loss she’s suffered – through laughter, and through wonderful dreams of her mother.