Most of them have been on the fringe. My fringe. Almost out of my peripheral vision, but still there. Definitely, still there. People I know, but not real well, or haven’t been very close to. Sometimes, barely an acquaintance, friend or family member of a friend. Now someone from my outer edge-not often thought about-fringe friends just sprang back to the forefront. Which flooded my head with another fringe friend from way back. Here’s the story on 2 of my peripheral vision friends.
|One of my besties, Jeanne from Davenport, mid-80’s, at a state bowling tourney…|
I always tended to be skeptical when a young couple joined our church. Terrible to even think like that or admit it, but I did. Often. Our congregation was ancient when we started attending in 2004, and we were considered fairly young members. I was in my early 50’s. But this stunning couple. Wow. Her name was Brittany. She was a beautiful blonde. His name was Brandon. He was tall, shy and fair-haired. They were engaged to be married at Central. Thus the skepticism. I believe if you wanted to get married at Central but were not members, the cost for having your wedding there was astronomical. A mere pittance if you belonged. A few times a year, a young couple would join our church right before they uttered their vows, never to be seen at Central again. My former church, built around 1930 has a breathtaking sanctuary. Young traditional couples sought to start their married life saying their vows at Central. Memorable.
|You can easily see why wedding vow pictures would be awesome at Central…|
But Brittany and Brandon proved me wrong. I’m surprised I ever crossed paths with them really. My job as Parish Visitor was tending to the needs of the elderly from our congregation. Mostly those who could no longer make it to weekly services. Their hunger for news from the church and conversations (about almost anything) was palpable whenever I knocked on their door, or walked into the care facility where they now lived. And that’s how our paths crossed. Brittany was studying to become an RN, and worked at a local nursing home while going to school. A couple of our congregation members now lived there so I visited every couple weeks. I’d run into Brittany every once in a while. After she and Brandon were married they continued to make Central their house of worship. A while later they had a baby girl followed by a boy (both with unusual names) a couple years later. Brittany got her RN degree and changed jobs.
If you’ve kept up with my blog, this is the approximate time I became disillusioned with organized religion in general and everything surrounding the Methodist Church. It wasn’t pretty. Still working on that little issue. Getting right with God. (Thanks for your patience God). Now, on with the story. It’s safe to say, I have not given Brittany, Brandon or their kids much thought since I retired from Parish Visiting in 2013.
|Impressive house of worship…|
Until recently. We moved 160 miles southeast of Muskegon in 2015. Our local newspaper is part of a conglomerate which allows me to keep tabs on Muskegon’s news, which I do a couple times a week. Scanning the Muskegon Chronicle, I started reading a story about a young couple. Oh, oh, don’t like where this is heading. Brittany had filed for divorce from Brandon earlier this year. She was out with a male hospital coworker on a Friday night when she was confronted by Brandon in a parking lot in downtown Muskegon. Brandon started shooting, killing Brittany instantly, then shooting the guy Brittany was with. Brandon drove off to a secluded spot near where he and Brittney lived and killed himself. A couple days later the other young man, Tommy died. Brittany was 28, Brandon, 34. Leaving 2 kids under 10 without parents. Although I have trouble bringing up many conversations with Brandon, this has not been the issue with Brittany. She has haunted my thoughts for 2 weeks. I feel so bad about her tragic death and for her kids. My hope is because she wasn’t even 30, Brittany’s mom is young enough to raise her kids. And I’m stunned, just stunned that I knew another fringe friend who was killed by another person. Never in my life did I imagine I would know people who were intentionally killed by someone else. Who would think of such a thing? Blows me away.
The other fringe friend happened while I was living in Davenport over 30 years ago. Remember while we lived there, 2 people were brutally murdered (separate and different cases) that I knew. It was my story called, Murder she Wrote. But this peripheral friend was not murdered. I honestly can’t remember her real name, which is beyond pitiful. But everyone called her Beanie.
I was on 3 bowling leagues at the time. Two were morning leagues, more to hone your bowling skills. There was no prize money. We only paid for our bowling, so the cost was minimal. But that third league was a serious group of women bowlers. This bowling alley was fantastic. It had 64 lanes-filled to the brim-every night. Our league started about 6, and there was no dinking around because the place had another 3 or 4 leagues starting around 8:30. I vaguely remember our league had about 12 teams with 5 gals on each team. Man were they competitive. I was a pretty good bowler, though certainly not the top bowler on my team, let alone the whole league. I was probably carrying an average in the low 160’s, but there were SEVERAL gals on our league who would be devastated if they ever bowled a game in that minuscule 160 range.
|One of our yearly state bowling tourneys, Pat, Jeanne, Marilyn, me and Dee…|
Beanie was on a team in our league. And to be truthful, I coveted absolutely everything about her. I was in my mid-30’s at the time and I think she was a little younger. Let me just put out there a few things about Beanie that I still think about. She was adorable. Petite with curly medium brown hair, I felt like an Amazon thug (or slug) next to her. I was insanely jealous of her team, which makes no sense. (I loved my team. Some of the best friends I’ve ever had. Mary Lou, Pat, Mary Ellen, Jeanne and me). But Beanie bowled with her mom. The relationship between my Mom and I was tenuous at best and it was almost painful to watch how easily and happy Beanie and her mom were bowling together every week. I think there might have been another sister on their team too. Geez. Beanie was an extraordinary bowler. That tiny gal could zip that dang 15 pound bowling ball down the lane with such precision. (Why couldn’t I throw a nice hook like that? No, my stinking straight ball looked like I belonged in a junior league). I was totally smitten, yet intimidated by everything-Beanie.
Beanie was married and had 2 kids, one of each, maybe 8 and 5. One spring day I opened the Quad City Times and there’s a picture of Beanie. First picture was when she was little and won the best Easter bonnet in the Easter parade at her elementary school. Twenty some years later, Beanie’s daughter won the same contest at the same school. So cute. Still, kinda envious. I remember being at Beanie’s house once. She had a Tupperware party for me. Her house was cute, kids were adorable, her pumpkin dessert, delicious. There was nothing in which Beanie didn’t excel.
It might have taken me a few Tuesday’s at bowling to realize Beanie was missing from her team. Their team had a sub every week. Soon, her mom wasn’t showing up either. News trickled our way that Beanie was sick. Very sick. I think it was leukemia. Within a matter of months, Beanie was gone. And I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I thought she had EVERYTHING. Where was I during this fog which lasted a few years? Being a normal, HEALTHY wife/mom/bowler/friend. Busy coveting what I thought I didn’t have. No wonder God personally wrote, ‘Denise, thou shalt not covet’ to clue me in. Finally. I had envied everything about Beanie.
|Brittany and Brandon got married right here a few years ago…|
For over 30 years, I still reminisce about the five year period when Beanie’s and my life intertwined. Sporadically and mostly from afar. Maybe, “coveted everything about her” might have been a tad over the top. Beanie’s young life, snuffed out just when her light was shining so bright you needed to wear shades in her presence. What is it about some people? That special ‘thing’ they possess? How can some people have such an enormous affect on someone they barely know? Thirty years after the fact. I don’t have a clue. But I’m glad Beanie and Brittany were in my life, at least for a little while. Fringe friends. So close to the edge peripherally, but still there. Hanging on. Forever in my mind. And heart…