She was the best audience, because she had a laugh that came straight from her soul. I felt like the funniest person on earth when I was with her, because no matter what I said, she would laugh. She had a weird and wonderful sense of humor that quickly bridged the gap between stranger and new best friend with anyone new that crossed her path. Her laugh was contagious and if you were in the same room with her, you wanted to be close to that laugh. Her laugh made you laugh and pretty soon, you'd have a bunch of people standing around laughing, some not even in on the original joke.
Over the past few years, Jodi and I had grown apart a little bit. We had moved out of the neighborhood, our kids played different sports and life was busy. But, even though I didn't see her every day, when I did run into her, she always made me feel like the most important person in the world to her. In fact, when she died I was shocked to read comment after comment on her Facebook page about how she made people feel. Where in the world did she find the time to nurture us all, to make us laugh and listen to our problems, with a completely open heart.
Over the past week, my mind continues to circle back to Jodi and the good times. I think a lot about the early years and trips with our kids to the beach or the pool or the movies...dragging along snacks and diaper bags and everything else. Me, super uptight and Jodi laughing at my rigidness toward parenthood and showing me the ropes on how not to sweat the small stuff. She threw together HUGE end of the school year parties for the kids, chili on Halloween and every year would gather a small audience and make her kids perform a fashion show with their new school clothes. She loved her children so much and along with them, their friends. Jodi was the fun Mom. My heart breaks for her children, as they not only lose a Mom, but really their best friend.
And, while Jodi was the fun Mom, she was also the fun friend. She made parties more fun. She made Super Target more fun. She made life more fun.
Jodi LOVED my fear of animals. She was an animal lover herself and found my fear completely intriguing and hysterical. She loved my reaction when a dog would run toward me or a bird would fly too close to my head (probably not all that close). I would be in the fetal position and Jodi would be next to me, close to peeing her pants because she would be laughing so hard. One night, Jake and I got home from a night out and I walked into our kitchen and my bold ran cold, as a deer was standing on our deck looking in our sliding glass door. Jodi had borrowed the neighbors deer decoy and dragged it through our neighborhood, into our backyard and up to our deck, so that she could scare me senseless. She also borrowed a rather large fake owl and placed it on my front porch. I almost fainted the first time I saw that huge thing sitting on my front porch. I didn't mention the owl to her for a few days and left it there, torturing her on whether I had noticed it or not. And, each time I walked past my front window, I would forget it was there and over and over again, scare myself.
Jodi had a unique ability to reserve judgement. I know it was one of the biggest reasons so many loved her. If you felt bad about yourself, you called Jodi. She made you feel better about yourself and the situation. She never looked down on you and she had a graceful way of building you back up and restoring your sense of self worth.
This week has been interesting thinking about this, as I kept defaulting to "Jodi would want me to..."
Jodi would want me to have another glass of wine. Jodi would want me to eat a sleeve of girl scout cookies. Hell no, Jodi would not want me to fold my laundry right now. That was the best part of Jodi. Whatever you wanted, well, she thought that was just fine. What's the hang up? Life is way too short to be stressed about an oreo cookie.
Over the last few years, whether we were hootin' it up in the dairy aisle at Super Target or if our paths crossed at the occasional neighborhood party, we always parted ways with the promise to get together and share a glass of wine. Just us. And, of course, it never happened.
I have been feeling guilty about that all week. Then yesterday, when I was thinking about her and her life and our inability to go have one glass of wine together, it hit me. Would Jodi want me to feel guilty about that? Ummm...no. Would Jodi want me to tell you about the fake deer on my deck because it would make you laugh? Yes.