Thursday, February 14, 2008

Remembering Donna by Kelly Sime

I didn’t choose to be Donna’s friend. She chose me. In fact, I remember not liking her the first time I met her. It was at a library training session, something I’d been forced to go to. And Donna’s sarcastic sing-song-y voice grated on me. I did not like this lady. But I figured I’d never see her again. Donna doesn’t remember me. Who would with fifty people in the room? I certainly did when she was again at a meeting I went to. I wasn’t too thrilled to be sitting beside her. I’d kind of seen her around since now we were working for the same library system, but I certainly wasn’t going to make any overtures to be her friend. That day at the meeting she declared, “You’re different. I like you. Let’s be friends.” Oh, boy. I tried to brush her off. Well, if you know Donna, when she sets her mind to it, she’ll make it happen.

I tried to remember yesterday how long I’d been friends with Donna. Hasn’t it been forever? She had to be the most social lady I know. If she hadn’t heard from me in a couple of weeks, she’d most certainly call me at work, out of the blue, telling me how she was sitting on the bench in Central Park with her daughter, Laurel. I felt so special that Donna wanted to share that magical moment with me. She wanted everyone to know how happy she was. I remember the day I found out her nickname. It was like I’d joined The Donna Club. We had eaten breakfast in Lawrence. Walking out onto Mass. St., someone yelled, “Hey, Weedle”. Donna waved back. Donna made me feel special. She knew everyone, but chose to spend her time with me.

Donna was an excellent storyteller. Many times I’d ask her to tell the same story over and over again. I delighted in watching others have the same reaction I did when she told the story. I’d beg Donna to please bring more of her book. I wanted to read more, more, more. It was highly personal to her. I knew that her allowing me to read it was another sign of how special I was to Donna. Ever since I was a teenager, I’d fantasized about being a hippie. Too bad I was born in the wrong era. But here was Donna, a true hippie. I wanted to know all about it. All about her.

One of the last times I saw her, we went out to eat at a “fancy” restaurant. That was so much fun—inviting unpredictable Donna to a place where you knew she would break all the rules. The rest of the group giggled as she asked for Diet Pepsi, not wine, and complained about the extravagance of the place settings. That’s Donna. She likes it simple. And when she’s happy, everyone’s happy. She taught me to not take things seriously. Really, what is the point of all the extraneousness?

The funniest story I have about Donna is when she came with me to the strip club for my bachelorette party. This was just three years ago. When we got to the door, Donna didn’t have her ID. The bouncer wouldn’t let her in. Clearly, she was over 21, but the gentleman was insistent that no one could come in without his or her ID. Donna put out a call to Paul to please bring her the ID. We were north of the river in Kansas City, at least an hour’s drive from Donna’s house. Paul to the rescue! This is the only time I’d ever seen Donna drink. She didn’t even know what to order. I’m pretty sure she didn’t even finish half of the strawberry daiquiri. The funniest part of this story is Donna’s reaction to the strip club. All of us young gals were curious about what she thought since she’d never been to a strip club. Donna, in the sweetest voice, said, “It was just like the circus.” Yes, it was quite a show.

Donna was, and Paul is, very special to my husband, Scott, and me. In all the times we spent together, I couldn’t help but look at those two and hope that Scott and I would be so crazy in love when we’re their age. I’m Donna and Paul is Scott. I’ve always felt that Scott is my perfect compliment. I saw the same with Paul and Donna. Donna was boisterous, loud and unpredictable—qualities I see in myself. Paul is quiet, contemplative, and doting—just like Scott.

Paul, my heart goes out to you. It is terrible for me to think about life without Donna, but life without my Scott would be tragic. Please use all of us as your support system. We love you just as much as we loved Donna.

And, Donna, your accident and death are so shocking because of the unfairness of the situation. Life seems much more fragile, knowing that someone so special can be taken away so quickly. The world will not easily forget you. Nor would we want to.

-- Kelly Sime

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