This is an ode to my first best friend, Laura Martens. Laura and I were neighbors and grew up together in a West-Island suburb of Montreal called Pierrefonds. At the early age of 3-4 I was lucky to have two “girl” friends, Laura and Mary-Lee Champ, but Mary-Lee moved away and that left Laura:
Laura and I were inseparable. Our favorite thing to do was to sit in the ditch in front of her house and sort all the colors in my bottle cap collection (as you know I am a packrat and still have this collection):
We also loved playing TV-tag, dress-up (which usually involved me dressing in drag), playing board games, and watching Star Trek. Here is a photo of Laura and me on her front lawn (That’s not her hair: she is wearing a “Beatle-wig”, a novelty that was quite fashionable at the time):
Laura and I experienced the sixties, the moon shot, puberty. I recall one awkward moment in my garage when we kissed, but it just felt weird: we knew we were just good friends.
Laura’s sister, her father, and Laura
Eventually I moved away to New Brunswick. We wrote for a time. About music, New Wave. This new band, The Cars… Do you think they’re any good?
Then we lost touch.
Years later I would learn that Laura died at too young an age of a terminal disease.
I bring this up because I have noticed something peculiar about the dead. Many of us think of them as living. I get many emails from Theresa’s friends and am quite touched when they tell me they think of her every day. I can’t really believe it.
Laura before she died in 1990
But I have thought about Laura at least once a week for the last 40 years, and it has nothing to do with her dying. She is part of me. A wonderful, sweet memory that I will keep forever. The dead touch us, inform us, guide us. They teach us. I think what they teach us most is tolerance of uncertainty, and a desire for serenity and peace.