I know that if my Mack was here, she would want me to enjoy the warm, early-fall weather. She would chide me for defining this comfortable and colorful season as the beginning of winter, instead of embracing it as the beautiful end of the summer. I know that if my Mack was here, she would want me to enjoy a few pumpkin-spice lattes. She would yell at me when I looked up the nutritional info on my phone, because didn’t I know that those seasonal beverages at Starbucks are special and don’t have any fat or calories? And I know that if my Mack was here, she would insist that a 50th birthday should be a happy affair, instead of one spent counting wrinkles. She would have denied that the gray hairs at my temples existed (even as I stretched them out before her eyes), arguing that 50 is the new 30 and that I should shut up, sit down, and watch a few episodes of Sponge Bob since I was feeling so damned old.
But my Mack is not here to hold my winter at bay or to aid and abet my consumption of too many sugary coffees or to employ her goofiest humor to keep me from turning…from feeling…old. But my Mack was here, and it is this magnificent fact on which I am determined to focus. Her time spent on the Earth was short, but it was bounding with joy and bursting with meaning. I was lucky to have shared life’s journey with her, if only for twenty short years. Mack’s spirit lives on in my heart, in my soul, and in my memories. It lives on in the hearts, in the souls, and in the memories of all the people who knew and loved her. Yet while Mack’s radiant spirit is always in the air around us, this week it must be particularly present. This week her laughter must ring a little louder in our ears. This week, the heartbeat in her gentle soul must resonate more deeply within our own, as we face this dreadful two-year anniversary of our lives without her.
Mack was a force of nature in my life, and now her spirit continues to guide me. As I have gathered up my courage to face this difficult week with resolve and at least a little grace, I have drawn from more tangible reminders of Mack’s good life than just my treasured memories. I have been reading Mack’s poetry and essays, watching videos of her playing basketball, and listening to recordings of her voice. So here I offer a sampling of beautiful material evidence of the essence of our Mack: a couple of lists in her own words, two delightful videos that depict her cheerful disposition and irreverent wit, and the precious sound of her voice.
In a Facebook game in high school, Mack offered these nine things about herself:
- Basketball and softball are the best.
- I act like a five year old.
- I have a freckle moustache.
- I like being a freshman.
- I enjoy music.
- I’m putting off homework right now.
- I’m good at math.
- I try to be nice.
- I need to work on my language, it’s becoming a problem.
Wish to recall something that Mack said? Here is funny little list she offered on social media of thoughts that frequently crossed her mind:
- Man, I could go for a corn dog.
- Why’d I wear this?
- I hate schooooool.
- That was a really stupid thing to do.
- Yep, I failed that.
- When’s summer?
- Is it almost lunch?
Remember those silly faces she always made?
Mack’s unique way of telling me she cut off her hair
Remember the way ridiculous ways she danced:
Mack dancing a jig in a prom dress and posing for one of my favorite photos, below
And…oh my god…do you remember Mack’s sweet voice:
Encouraging Pepper to jump and “speaking Spanish”
Reading her “This I Believe” essay on the radio
And now, Dear Mack, I’m on my way to collect my first pumpkin-spice latte of the season. Iced. Grande. With whipped cream. And, no, I did not look up the calories!