My friend, Jeanne, was always up for an adventure. She liked the quote by
Eleanor Roosevelt: "Do one thing every day that scares you." Jeanne lived
by it. She pushed the fast-forward button at every chance. Time is short.
Chop-chop. Let's go. And that was just when we would head out the door to
take a walk in the year's first snowfall. A tradition in our college days.
A way of honoring Ann Arbor. Our crazy, care-free time together. Up early,
into the quiet street, to see our breath, clear our heads. There were
books to be read. Words to be written. Swings to be swung on in Burns Park
down at the end of Olivia.
Since Jeanne's death in a car wreck not two months back, she's been coming
to visit me early just before the birds start singing. I am somewhere
between waking and sleeping. And don't know whether her appearance is a
dream or a nightmare or both.
"Courage," she says in my face, more like a drill sergeant this morning,
instructing all those she loved and left behind. Her voice is steady, like
she'd been reading aloud just moments earlier.
"You have to be like that first bird," she says. "You have to open your
eyes each day and sing. Sing dammit. Sing. No one needs a crybaby to carry
around." Jeanne strides before us half coach, half cheerleader. All
"Now, wake up," she says (and here's where she stops in front of me and
turns to speak the words right up in my face) "With the courage to wake
first light –
under her doll's bed
the packed suitcase