My friend Leslie was a cool chick. She loved her kids, her boyfriend, Star Wars, her friends, and standing up for what she believed was right, probably in about that order. The top three on that list meant so much to her they were inscribed permanently on her body in an impressive collection of ink. She didn’t fit, visually, on our playground, where I knew got to know her as one of the school moms. But she fit with us and she cared, big time.
For some people, funerals are the right goodbye. For others, it’s a wake or a party or a tiny gathering of friends. When Leslie died in July, there was no immediate memorial planned. The three of us who’d been four until then held our own, privately, toasting her at a repeat of the birthday dinner we’d had for her the year before when she’d hoped for a future and told us what it meant to her to celebrate her birthday with us. It was a good way for us to say goodbye, but it was just us. The universe, I thought, still had something else in mind.
There were other gatherings for her, with friends and family and the sea. But today, I saw the goodbye I didn’t know I was waiting for. For me, this was the right way to see Leslie off. I don’t pretend to know very much about Burning Man, but Leslie loved it. And she would have loved this, too. She’s one of the pictures in this piece, and this, for me, is the right goodbye.