What would Mary do?

I always find comfort in knowing Mary went through something I went through.  Often I find myself thinking, did Mary feel this way?  I’m sure it’s a normal part of coping with her absence.  Although, growing up I didn’t want to do something unless Mary had done it first.  She always seemed to pave the way for me.

I didn’t drink in high school.  In college, I said no at parties until about 6 months before my 21st birthday.  I wasn’t with Mary, but I called her 2 Vanilla Coke’n Rum’s in, to declare “Mary, I’m drunk!”  I definitely was never going to smoke!  But then later, I could at least try it, since she had.  I definitely was not going to be having sex.  And whenever I would do the deed, it would have to be after Mary had done it. How else was I going to know what to do?

This standard pertained to an array of things: going on a date, kissing a boy, traveling, buying things, etc.  All fashion purchases were double checked with her, even after the fact.  I had to make sure it was cool.  I was pretty ignorant, and just plain scared. Sometimes I wonder how much has really changed.

Lately, I have found myself feeling useless, stagnant, bored.  My summer hiatus is (hopefully) ending, and I am starting to finally feel it’s weight pull me down.  I’ve always been an optimistic and active person, I can’t sit still.  I caused my Portugal vacation to be an opportunity to learn another language.  Even now, during hiatus, I have kept up with Portuguese lessons daily, piano practice, yoga practice – I will not let myself become idle.  Still, I have lost purpose, and optimism.  Today was particularly hard.  I know, we need to have these days sometimes.  I do see the the benefit of them.  I know when we have days like these, we can appreciate the good ones even more.
Today, at the end of a long emotional day, I found solace in knowing Mary felt this way.

I remember growing up, and especially in college, she was trying to figure out her life purpose.  She would tell me how jealous she was of me, that I always just knew I wanted to be an actress.    I was passionate about it, and practiced it and sought out opportunities.  I majored in Theatre in college.  It was happening.  She, on the other hand, had many interests.  She played basketball in high school.  She was amazing!  She also played soccer, was in some plays, took piano lessons, art lessons. She wrote poetry. She loved to read. I don’t know how she found the time to know every lyric to every song on the radio.  She majored in Arts Administration in college, and envisioned one day curating an art museum.  After graduating college, she didn’t feel directed towards a passion. She always explored and dabbled, but wasn’t feeling what she thought she saw in so many of her peers around her.  Over time, towards the end of her life, she realized her calling to be a counselor.  It was amazing to see her so passionate about something, and it made sense with all of her life experience to be doing just that.  It really clicked and finally made sense.  It was exciting.

But career aside, there was ONE THING, she told me in high school and/or college,  that she knew she was meant to be and do, and that was to be a mother.  That was the one thing she always felt led to accomplish and had the confidence to do so. She had grown up her mother’s little helper.  She had an amazing teacher and blueprint in place for the job.

Mary also got married before me. She had a child before me. And, she died before me.  These are things I think about a lot.  I think about how when my times comes, I don’t think I will be nearly as scared as I would have been; especially if I go young, or if a disease takes my body, the long and hard way like it did hers.  It would be terrible, but I would at least be comforted in the fact that she went through it, first.  Even more so, I would be happy to see her soon.  She would be waiting for me on the other side, or maybe she would even usher me in and make the transition smoother. I hope she would.

After thinking about Mary, I feel comforted. She felt hopeless and useless, directionless and stagnant at times.  She knew these struggles well, during many years of seeking.  I feel the bittersweetness of being alive without her.  I have the opportunity to live and appreciate bad days like these.  Thanks for teaching me that Mary.  Thanks for teaching me to hope, even when it feels like all is hopeless.