Mack’s Pack

When my Mack collected a best friend, she spread out those long arms of hers, enveloped the lucky new person in a Big-Mack hug, and adopted her as a sister. Mack’s individual relationships with each member of what I have come to think of as Mack’s Pack were, of course, special and unique unto themselves. Yet for Mack, this group of amazing young women was more than just a random circle of her closest female friends. Almost as if she saw herself as Momma Mack, she created a little family out of those best friends. For her it was important…no, it was essential…that her hand-picked collection of best friends be friends with one another and that they feel the bonds for one another that she felt for them. I have come to believe that deep in Mack’s soul was the sweet knowledge of the good those best friends of hers might one day be able to do for each other.

The night before Mack’s memorial service in Springfield, her family of best friends assembled to grieve together, to draw strength from one another, and to share their memories of Mack with each other. Mack’s happy spirit was with them that night, and I know in my heart she would now be profoundly grateful that two years later the lifelong bonds of Mack’s Pack continue. Two of those women— Maggie, a childhood best friend, and Meagan, a college best friend—were recently together in Columbia, Missouri. During their brief but happy reunion, in the town where Mack first introduced them, a friendship between them has blossomed and the happy chances of life, realized through our human connections in the world, are on full, beautiful display.

Just a couple of months ago, Maggie, who has lived in Columbia since arriving there as a college freshman, was working at an internet ad agency, her first post-college job. Meagan had just moved to Columbia to take her first job, working on the Democratic campaign of senatorial candidate Jason Kander. Because they had Mack in common, they got together. They shared meals, beers, and funny stories about their lost friend. Maggie and Meagan also discovered that Mack was not their only common bond. Although not surprisingly, given that Mack had collected them as best friends, Maggie and Meagan also learned that they had similar world views, shared many interests, and enjoyed the cultivation and practice of very quirky senses of humor. As if those common bonds were not enough, they are also both fun-loving but serious-minded woman, and as feminists and politically astute new college graduates, both are enthralled with this season’s fascinating politics and the exciting election year of 2016.

Just weeks after arriving in Columbia, Meagan had the opportunity to take a job on Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Maggie was there to counsel and encourage Meagan to make the move, even after so short a time in her first job; and Meagan was there to convince Maggie, who studied political science at Mizzou and interned with a Democratic Missouri legislator, to follow her political passions, as well. Meagan lobbied her boss at the Kander campaign to hire Maggie as her replacement, and Maggie accepted the new job just as Meagan was preparing to move to her new job in Omaha, Nebraska.

Today, Meagan is settled in Omaha. Maggie has begun her new job back in Columbia. And both women have a new best friend. It is absolutely natural and happy and good that Mack’s Maggie and Mack’s Meagan would come together at a perfect time in their new lives as adult woman. It is a beautiful testament to their personal friendships with Mack that they would so easily forge a friendship with each other. It does honor to Mack’s good work in the creation and sweet maintenance of her special pack of best friends. And it is amazing and such a blessing to me that Mack’s spirit was once again party to all of the good her best friends can, and will forever do, for each other.

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Maggie and Meagan in Columbia

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I had the pleasure of sharing drinks and a meal with Meagan and Maggie in Columbia before Meagan moved to Nebraska.

The serious and silly sides of the Mack-Maggie friendship (

The serious and silly sides of the Mack-Meagan friendship (

Epilogue: Yet another Mack best friend, Ali, helped Meagan pack up her belongings in Columbia! (


Short Stature and Long Memories

Yesterday, I bounced up onto the washing machine into a seated position and then pulled one leg up, lifting myself into a standing position atop the washer, so that I could then reach a box stored on the top shelf in the laundry room. I am a short and small woman, so my reach is often insufficient. Therefore, I frequently engage in this hop-sit-stand method of obtaining the things I want that are located at high altitudes. I retrieved the box and then settled into the required, intermediate, sitting-before-dismount position. But instead of hopping down straight away, I stayed seated, my legs dangling several inches above the floor. Mack, who always deemed my hop-sit-stand method ridiculous as well as delightfully entertaining, popped into my mind. Her enchanting little giggle filled my head, and so many memories of her good-natured teasing of my vertically-challenged life flooded over me.

Whenever Mack witnessed the limits of my reach, she would chuckle and snort before obtaining the object for me, making a dramatic demonstration of how so very easy it was for her to collect the object. When we stood next to each other for pictures, she would often ask me if I would like for her to kneel so I would not look like a “shrimp.” Frequently, a hug from Mack meant that her chin would dig deep into the top of my head to remind me of her six extra inches of height. And nothing sent her more quickly into a fit of giggles than my legs dangling on the bar stools at Buffalo Wild Wings. My common response to her playful joking about my short stature was: “I’ve been short all my life, and I’m getting along just fine.” “Oh, really?” she would reply. And then a fit of giggles elicited her trademark wrinkled nose, exaggerated finger point, and whispery hee-hee-heeing.

Mack is always on my mind, and I carry her spirit around with me every day no matter where I am or what I am doing. But it is so weird sometimes how that goofy girl interjects herself into my memories and makes me laugh. There I was just getting a box off of a shelf in the laundry room, and Mack bursts in just in time to make fun of me. Sitting there with my legs dangling, I closed my eyes and just let Mack’s giggle fill up the small space. I am so grateful for these random connections with my lost girl. I am beyond thankful for all of the laughter we shared during our short time together. I wish like hell she was still here to tease me about being so damn short. But thank goodness her spirit can find me, even in the laundry room on an ordinary Sunday afternoon.


Here is Mack making fun of me as I struggle to find a way off of a high wall.

Mack and Me

Here is the photo taken on the wall before the teasing began.

a favorite photo

And here is my favorite picture depicting our height difference. Note: Mack is wearing flat sandals and is leaning over, and look where her waist is compared to mine!