(Photo courtesy of Jennie Isbell.)
Today would have been James Lacey's 42nd birthday. Sunday will be the first anniversary of his death. People who know more about this sort of thing than I do assure me that once the Year of Firsts is over, things will change. The grief won't disappear, nor would I want it to, but it will change. We'll see. There have been many emotional ambushes lately, probably because of the impending anniversaries, but also, as I mentioned earlier, because of the trip. Before I left there was also a very weird week where about five plays or TV shows I saw had dead sons/brothers as surprise plot points. Man did that get old. Finally, after one too many times sniffling and snorking excessively until intermission, I learned to have tissues handy at all times. So, there's that.
My friend Ellen, who is also grieving the loss of a younger brother, did something a few months back that I really liked. On her brother Mark's birthday, she asked her friends to have an Entemann's double chocolate donut -his favorite - in his memory. Our mutual friend Marta happened to be visiting at the time, so I bought a dozen (or was it two?) donuts for she, Bill, and I to share. DAMN they are some good donuts, but I don't recommend having more than one at a sitting, or even in a single twenty-four hour period. I think my heart palpitations only stopped a couple of days ago.
So, I want to suggest something like that in memory of James. There's nothing quite as clear-cut in the way of favorites with him, at least I'd be hard pressed to pick a single food he really loved. Actually, he'd probably have loved those same donuts, but the one food I can remember him getting really excited about was, well, salad. The man loved his salad. He always complained after devouring one in a restaurant that "it was too small." And I use the word 'devour' advisedly. Mary always said, seeing James eat a salad wasn't pretty. It was a bit like watching a lion take down a gazelle. And I'm not talking the quiet aftermath when the lion munches contentedly on the slightly-quivering-but-mostly-still corpse, I'm talking the heart-pounding terrifying scene of the lion literally taking down the gazelle. Lotta gusto. He got in the habit of having salads as his afternoon snack. Mom and Mary nearly strangled him when they learned that. It's just unnatural, is what it is. Snacks aren't supposed to be good for you. He was as much of a foodie as the rest of us, and always enjoyed big feasts, but seemed to be constitutionally unable to over-do in most cases. He never had more than a single glass of wine, for example. A second one always gave him a headache. Maybe the Quaker genes were just a bit stronger in him than they are in the rest of us. Little weirdo.
So, like, if you want to have a James Lacey commemorative salad, well, that's swell, I guess (ya little weirdo). But here are a few other suggestions for things you might do over the next three days, if you've a mind, whether you knew him or not.
Snoogle a big dog. Extra credit if you take it for a long walk.
Take a housebound (or merely carless) friend grocery shopping.
Call, visit, or invite over for tea anyone you suspect is hiding from the world, due to a divorce, job loss, or any other psychic wound. Risk being a bit relentless about it, a pain in the ass, even.
Go bowling with friends.
The man loved Tweety-bird. I have no idea what to do with that, but if that inspires you, more power to ya.
Invite friends over for board or role-playing games. Snacks, if they are provided (and why the hell wouldn't they be?), should be served in bowls. And don't worry, he always served good snacks (no salads).
Get friends (and snacks) together for a Mystery Science Theater 3000 Marathon. Star Trek, any of them (well, maybe not Deep Space Nine) works too.
Amendment 6/5/10: PIE! I can't believe I forgot about pie! James loved it, especially blueberry, but he'd pretty much take his pie any way he could get it. Maybe I had blocked it out, since 'pie' was one of his stock responses to virtually any question, whether food was involved or not. Basically he just felt any situation could be improved by pie, I guess. It's an argument worth examining, I suppose. Thanks to friend AJB (see comments) who learned this fact from visiting Mom yesterday, while she was baking a blueberry one in James' memory. So, that's another fine food you can have in celebration.
Hug and kiss everyone you love, in greeting and parting. No need to go overboard with this one; I don't think James did it with many people outside the family circle (which of course includes the dog and cat), his bowling or gaming buddies for example. But don't miss any opportunity to say good bye to anyone.
We miss thee, James.