Everyone knows the traditional Thanksgiving story; Pilgrims, Native Americans and a grateful feast. This year I have my own Thanksgiving story. I am not going to lie, I am not looking forward to this Thanksgiving. I am not looking forward to the holidays at all. But I do have a lot to be grateful for and most importantly I am grateful for my friends. Not to be sappy or maudlin but I am insanely blessed with friends. I read somewhere that friends make the stories of our lives. I love that. I love the chapters my friends and I have created together and I look forward to a million more stories. If you are reading this you are most likely some one I consider a friend and am very grateful to have in my life. Thanks for putting up with me. My Thanksgiving story is about one specific friend lost and then found with the help of my Dad.
I met Debbie in a dance class in college. She was one of those people who you just “click” with and in a matter of weeks we were inseparable. Besides having a love of dance, musical theater and warped sense of humor in common I thought Debbie was fearless. She said whatever came to mind, was all about having adventures and was not afraid to try something new. Through the years we shared everything; clothes, money, places to live and more laughs than I can remember. We were in each others weddings, she was with me when Riss and Mario were born and we helped each other through life’s disappointments. She kept me sane. She shared with me her wonderful parents and her insanely funny brother. Deb always accepted me for who I was and I could just be me; the good, the bad and the ugly with no judgement. Honestly, if Debbie had been a man I would have married her.
About 15 or 16 years ago we drifted apart. It was not a major argument or anything drastic like that. More of life and certain situations getting in the way. It is not something I am proud of and in hindsight I should have done more to preserve the friendship. It is easy to say that this prevented it or that prevented it, but none the less it happened and it was a loss. Through the years I tried to find her. I Googled, I searched the White pages and you know I stalked Facebook all to no avail. She was often on my mind. I have had my favorite picture of her stuck on my bureau mirror for about 20 years. It was taken in a dressing room when she was Anita in West Side Story. It’s a great picture of her and I never took it down. Sometimes I would look at it and remember something funny and smile. Sometimes I would look at it and mourn the loss of her friendship. But the picture always brought me comfort. This past March my Dad came to visit. He came into my bedroom for something, I think to pet Jack who was sleeping on the chair, and he stopped to look at my messy bureau full of pictures and memories. He spotted the picture of Debbie and said “Skunk, have you found her?”. I replied “No Dad but I try every once in a while”. He said “Keep trying”.
I am being honest that when Dad was diagnosed with Cancer and in the weeks that followed I thought of Debbie. I wanted to tell her what was happening and just how scared and sad I was. I knew that if I fell apart in front of her and voiced my worse fears she would not only know what to say but it would comfort me just to know she knew. Does that make sense? She was just that kind of friend. Dad died and my thoughts have been pretty much consumed with that sad horrible truth. There has not been room for much more than getting through my days and coming to terms with the void he left. The new normal.
When I returned from Disney I had an email that there were two new messages on Dad’s Legacy.com page. I went to read them and one of them was from…. (Drum roll please, This is the good part of the story!)…. Debbie! My heart burst with her kind words and just the fact that she had written to me. I contacted her with my phone number and within 10 minutes she called. Honestly, hearing her voice felt like home. We screamed, laughed, talked and caught up for two hours. There was no awkwardness and no remorse, just the same easy friendship we formed in a dance studio almost 30 (yikes) years ago. About half way through the conversation I asked her how she knew that Dad had passed. And she said “I was waiting for you to ask, are you ready for this?” Well, Deb and her husband are living in North Carolina now. She and her husband had gone out to dinner and two men were seated at the table next to them. She overheard one of them say to the other “I am sorry to tell you George DeLucia has passed away”. WHAT!?!??!? She said she could not believe that she was hearing Dad’s name and said to her husband “I think I know who they are talking about”. As soon as she got home she Googled “George DeLucia Obit” and Dad’s photo and his obituary came up. She read it and instantly left me a Facebook message (That I never saw. I never check other messages.) and left the loving message on Legacy.com.
My Dad had done business a long time ago for a short period of time in North Carolina. I have no doubt the men were someone he had done business with.Of all the restaurants they could have chosen to go to that night they picked that one. In a restaurant full of tables the two men were seated next to her. Nobody can convince me that my Dad did not have everything to do with bringing my friend back to me when I needed her most. So even though my heart will be heavy with what I have lost this Thanksgiving it will be most grateful for what has been found. Thank You Dad, Love you.
And that is MY Thanksgiving story. Isn’t it a good one?
P.S. Debbie and I are going to watch the Thanksgiving Day Parade together via phone tomorrow morning. How great is that?
P.P.S. Somebody asked me why I did not use more photos in my posts. Truth be told I have not been able to look through all my pictures. Too many good memories. I am sure in time I will be able to look through them without falling apart and then I will BOMBARD and BORE you all with my family photos. Good Times!