How do I put this delicately?
One of my closest friends died a few days ago.
I wish I could decorate that sentence with delicate flowers or maybe some softly lit candles. I wish there was a pretty way of saying the unimaginable. Maybe, if I could figure out a way to phrase it better, I could turn this tragedy into a beautiful work of poetry – a metaphor for life and love and happiness. But the reality is that this situation is not delicate. Macie – a wife, daughter, sister, friend, artist, lover – died the morning of August 12th, 2016 in a fire. A fire that leveled the entire landing in which she and many others lived. How do you put that delicately?
For all that knew Macie, we knew Macie was a bold individual. She never pretended to be this fragile girl hiding in the bushes from her passions and beliefs. At least, not for the brief time that I knew her.
Macie and I met at work. I remember everything about our first encounter. I tiptoed inside in a long black dress, only to hear a voice coming from somewhere in the racks of clothes.
“You must be Ellen!”
Literally where is this voice coming from…
She finally appeared from behind the Royal Robbins – a spunky, pretty woman who could not be above 5 foot three.
“Dude, you’re going to model for me.”
And so began a friendship that resembled a beautiful summer romance of two girls talking about their hopes and dreams, loves, my crushes, her loving husband, our lives and how beautifully they were unfolding, however unconventional.
In early June, we sprawled out a beautifully multicolored quilt across the ground in Valle Crucis Park and soaked up the sun’s rays in between running to and from the creek to cool off. She pulled out her camera and threw a vintage night-gown my way, asking me to put it on and hop in the creek for some dreamy photos to capture our day. There was really no arguing with the girl. Without a care in the world, she took photos as I sat upon rocks in the creek and weeds on the banks, not even taking into consideration possible poison ivy or snakes that could be lurking around us.
Just before leaving the creek, she saw a fisherman with a dead trout. When I turned around, she was shaking a dead fish in my face telling me to hold it and pretend to kiss it. After about fifteen minutes of screaming and chasing me around with this smelly fish, she somehow got me to hold the damn thing and act like I was kissing it.
We lived a lot that day.
Laying on our quilt just before we parted that day, she wrote in my journal:
you are sitting beside me on your colorful quilt. The sun, kissing our skin, is promising that the world is safe and good. I’m super duper happy that today happened. You keep trying to convince me that we are more alike than I think – which I already believe, duh. If today told you anything about me, it’s probably that I will always try to get you to do things you’re uncomfortable with at first, in hopes of a good time or realization. It’s my first summer in the valley – yours too, I think. I am at such peace here, I hope we find peace together. I am 100% rooting for you in this new, uncertain journey you might be taking! Team Ellen for eternity. Thanks a million moons for opening up to me – I’m jazzed about you + I! Today was magic – your face is almost as lovely as your heart. If I were a bird and you were a bee, I would let you ride on my wings + I would listen to you buzz all day. If I were an otter you would be my favorite rock (yes, otters have stones that are precious to them). Can’t wait for you to see the Neverending Story!
Love + light, Angel.
More summer days passed and she had me exploring hills, fields, trails and cemeteries, many of which had “No Trespassing ” signs that always had me thinking if I end up in jail, at least it will be with Mace.
I was talking to one of her friend’s earlier today and told her “Macie literally always made me have flowers in my mouth. Like literally, flowers in my mouth. Literally. Always.” This life-loving wife and daughter and friend and sister made me eat flowers, whether it be for her photography or just because “the little yellow flowers taste like honey.”
One of my favorite moments of our summer together was the night her in-laws came to visit her and her husband in the valley. There had just been a major storm that passed through the area, so we went out after it passed and stocked up on wine and pizza for the night.
When the night settled in, we had all been roaming around the park looking for Pokemon when Macie and I both took a step back in the dark.
Lightning bugs had lit up the entire night sky.
“Hey follow me.”
So, of course, I followed.
We sat on this bench surrounded by trees and flowers, with a perfect view of all the lightning bugs lighting up the field in front of us. I don’t think either of us were prepared for the beauty we were surrounded by that night.
We declared our undying friendship and called that little bench surrounded by fireflies “Our Kingdom.” And from that moment forward, we were each other’s little lightning bugs. Lost in a moment of summer magic, listening to her husband and his family laugh along somewhere ahead of us, we ended up running out of our kingdom due to the bats diving into our little moment.
A beautiful soul. A Christ-loving piece of magic. Spunky and beautiful in all the ways that God made her. A wife who never stopped talking about how her husband had saved her and loved her more than she could ever have imagined. A daughter who bragged about her parent’s love for her and others. A sister who spoke highly of her brother any chance she could fit him into any conversation. A friend who told me I can’t be her ultimate best friend because that wouldn’t be fair to her other best friends in her hometown who have watched her grow up. A friend who taught me how to feel joyful again, how to trust again, and how to love myself again. A gift from God, which is exactly what the name Macie means. I think we can all attest to that.
Love you, buggie.