If You Don't Go to Other People's Funerals...

A long, long time, ago, I spent my junior year abroad at a magic program called the British and European Studies Group in London. This small program consisted of students from a number of American liberal arts colleges, mainly with a theatre, English, and/or history been, and brought them over to work with British tutors. It was in that year that a lot of magic happened, for me and for almost everyone else enrolled. I learned I was smart, I was capable, and that I could do anything I put my mind to. Or, as my friend David put it:
I walked away from London with a writing career, darts and a wife.
Earlier this month, one of my amazing friends from that year, O'Bryan Broecker Worley, passed away due to a sudden blood clot.

It had been 28 years since I had seen her (or most other people from that program, with a few exceptions), but I wanted so much to go to the funeral. I wanted to see my amazing friend Fran, who I have kept up with and most recently saw here just a few weeks ago. I wanted to see Renee and Jenn, who I had not seen since then but who I kept up with sporadically, and I wanted to see Kris, whose own husband had passed away just last month (and I had not made it to his funeral). I wanted too tell her parents how much I thought of her, and meet her amazing daughter, and her husband, whom she had loved more than life. So when airfare turned out to be ridiculous, Patrick said "Let's just drive," and so we did. That's my husband, always up for a road trip and for making the impossible possible. And I think he realized how much I needed to go.

So on Friday we drove to Indianapolis, and got to spend the night with Richard and Elaine. We got to meet Ginger Mae, and celebrate Richard's birthday with him, and have a tasty dinner, and watch the transformative #HamilDoc with them. It reminded me that whenever I get a chance to see my BFFs, I should take it.

The next day we drove to the church, and I attended the funeral while Patrick and Beatrix explored a little. A church so full of people who cared, who loved O'Bryan fiercely and who she loved back. A chance to see these amazing women in real life.

We checked into out AirBnB that we shared with Fran and her fiancé Pate, an incredible little cottage in the back of a bigger house on Southern Parkway. The cottage was adorable, the garden filled with magic, even a koi pond:

We drove around and explored just a little on our way to an Irish bar to meet the others. Louisville is an extraordinarily pretty city. I would love to go back someday, maybe stay in the same cottage, and just settle in for awhile.

At the bar, we did shots, snacked a little, marveled at Kris' amazingly organized scrapbook. Jenn read us a letter from our friend Adam, which brought back more tears (apparently I had ones left after the service, who knew?). Damn you, Adam. And also I love you.

We headed over to Dan and Taylor's house where more people were gathering. I don't know how they had the strength to hold that kind of gathering, but I am glad they did. It made me feel closer to O'Bryan to see her knitting basket, her carefully canned jars of produce, the comfortable home she made — and brought more tears. I sat on the porch until late with Fran and Renee and Jenn and Kris, and I had no earthly idea how, but those years melted away and it was just the kind of night where we could go back to the kinds of conversations we had when we were all together in London — just maybe a little richer and more complex with age. And Dan told us stories about how he met and fell in love with O'Bryan, and it was wonderful.

A long drive back today, where we could appreciate such random things as acres and acres of windmills and lunch at the "Cowfe" at a farm-themed attraction. (Get it, "cow-fe"? And soooooo much dairy...)

It was an an exhausting weekend in so may ways. And also one of the most important I can remember spending. So important to connect with these people, to have a husband and daughter willing to go along to make that happen, to make  little adventure out of a long drive.

So much of what we discussed this weekend was how happy O'Bryan was with her life, an amazing life with so much good in it. And dear friend, I can honestly say the same thing about mine. You are loved, O'Bryan, and you make other people love each other. That's a powerful legacy.


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