Sunday, February 6, 2011

Flashback Friday (The Sunday Edition)- The Farewell Party. Missing a good friend.

I have to warn you in advance that while my blog is primarily a humor blog, this posting is very sad because on this late evening I'm missing a good friend of mine who died way too early.

I met my friend Maya in high school. Back then she was very well liked by just about everyone. I used to run with the hip hop heads and she ran with some of the party girls and it was a big social scene. She always accused me of being a "player" because I did hook up with some of her friends but it was all innocent then. Her image of me was not grounded in reality. She thought I had action like R.Kelley. The truth is I knew alot of girls but I was ackwardly shy.

She was very opinionated and was very dramatic about things. In Situations that I found trivial, she found drama; especially if she believed that another woman had obstructed her chances of hooking up with a crush. But the truth is that she was very insecure because during high school and through most of her adult life, she was bigger than most girls. On some occasions, she would even tell me that I didn't have to be seen with her because others may perceive that we were an item. I downplayed that for her sake and reassured her that she was a friend and that she never had to worry about that. Frankly, I don't care what people thought.

After H.S, she went to an art college in L.A and designed clothes. I don't know exactly what she did. I just know that she drew shit, cut shit, and designed shit made from cloth. She worked with other artistic types from Los Angeles. She had the best parties. She had theme parties and everyone went to her parties in Whittier. Once she had movie night and we all watched Pulp Fiction (One of her favorite movies)using a film projector and a wall with sheets as a screen. On another occasion she had a circus theme party where people dressed like clowns and she had a pop corn machine and dressed up the back yard like a carnival.

She was full of life and united everyone. She was the reason that I went to so many parties. Many times I showed up alone and conversed with her friends and they treated me like a friend because I knew Maya. We would often smoke cigarettes, yeah cigarettes, the kind that make you sleepy and she would go on and on about the latest drama.

" Israel, he is giving me mixed signals. He flirts with me but then he doesn't...."
I would just listen and give a smart ass reply like I was Al pacino in Scarface.
( In a horrible Cuban accent) "He's a fuckin' asshole." I had the ability to make her crack up with my dry and sarcastic humor. You don't know how many times she would laugh at an off color remark only to be followed by, "you are such an ass."

We would just hang out and laugh at the stupidest of shit. I know of only one serious relationship that she was in and her boyfriend was distant, had depression, and was oftentimes insensitive. Welcome to the club. After partying agroup of us would go to the backyad in the silence of the night and tell stories and jokes and all you would hear throughout the night was her piercing laugh.

She ended up getting a lap band procedure and she lost alot of weight but she was still the same funny and dramatic person. After losing the weight she was notified that she had cancer. She seemed optimistic that she would beat it and she would email us the latest medical treatment she was receiving. She travelled alot and was pretty sure she would beat it.

I git a call from her sister. I was surprised because she never calls me. She tells me that Maya was having one last party with all of the people that were special to her. She wanted me to be there. It was a good bye party, literally. I was told that the cancer had spread throughout her body and had damaged her liver.

The party took place in her grandma's house on the back yard. She hired a blues band and had set up tables and there was plenty of food and booze. As you entered the back yard, there were two trees in two tables as ornaments. The trees had fruits but the fruits were the photographs of all her friends and family. You were then asked to take a fortune, like fortune cookie. Mine read: Trust Your Instincts.

It was difficult internalizing the party. One the one hand we were celebrating her life, on the other hand, chances were we would never see her again. People got in line and hugged her exchanging hugs and tears. I watched from a distance and began to get sad. I approached her and ackwardly hugged her briefly and just said, "you will be alright." Her skin looked yellow and even though she was sick, there was something angelic about her. I ate and drank and didn't stay too long. I do not know how to act around tragedy.

Soon afterwards she died. She was in her early 30's, But before she died I had written her a 5 page letter trying to encourage her and telling her that I had faith in God and that she should too. It was weird because I had never written her anything. I also expressed my grattitude about having her as a friend and I reminisced about how much time and memories we shared.

She was cremated and the service was very secular but beautiful. Photographs were flashed on the screen. There was a black and white picture of me and her that we had taken in a photobooth in an L.A bar. Friends and family spoke highly of her and we were all shocked to have lost such a charismatic person.

At the time that we were hanging out, I would sometimes get annoyed at her drama. Now I recall that drama as some of the best memories of my life. I still hear her piercing laugh and still her her tell me that I'm such an ass but I'm a better person for knowing her and in challenging times I'm trying really hard to trust my instincts. I miss my friend.


  1. What a wonderful tribute. I could almost picture her laughing and smiling. Thank you for sharing your memories.

  2. Wow, Israel. You and Yvonne both. I often deal with survivor's remorse because several of my good friends died early and I'm still here. Thank you for telling us what Maya was like and how she impacted your life. As you go on with your life take with you the memories of the good times and the lessons learned. Yvonne's friend urged her to "just be happy." Maya's fortune cookie urged you to "trust your instincts."

  3. *Tears* It's hard to have words when you feel like I do right now. Why is life SO damn unfair?
    I'm so sorry for your loss, my friend.

  4. Yes, definitely tears. I have lost a lot of friends early and family members too. It is hard. They're so young that sometimes you wonder what happens to their intentions; intentions to do this tomorrow and that next year and eventually marry and have kids and... It's like leaving a movie halfway through and not knowing how it turns out. Everyone needs a friend like Maya. Sometimes, our light is all that we leave behind and that light includes our quirks, our goofiness, our loving nature, our drama. There will never be another Maya, but you had one in your life and that's the prize. Now, you know what to look for to fill the void; another friend with light and drama, talent and a heart. I wish you well. It's a hard thing to digest, but you do eventually assimilate and in a way it makes you work a bit harder, appreciate friends a bit deeper.

  5. Israel, Maya sounds like such a fun, artistic and interesting person. I'm sure many, many people will miss her. It was lovely of you to send her a letter. Thank you for telling us about her.

  6. ((Hugz)) I know what it is like to lose a friend that is young, but God has a time and a purpose for everyone...just know that God had a plan in all of this.

  7. Aww, if I could, I would give you a big hug right now! Your story made me cry. I've had many friends who have died way too early in their life. All I can offer you is that hug and that as someone else mentione above, you were given Maya as a prize -a gift. Cherish your memories and live your life as best as you can. Time will eventually calm the ache you feel inside. Abrazos!!! :)

  8. This hit close to home, as I also lost a special person in my life to cancer. I'm glad that you cherish those memories that you spent with her. They are bittersweet because this incredible person is no longer here; but those memories... they're incredibly precious.

  9. Death has been hitting around people who I know quite hard recently and not so recently but still affects them. I'm sorry for your loss but at least she's in a better place watching over you and her other loved ones.

    The party that she threw sounds like a wonderful way to say goodbye.

  10. I am so sorry to hear about your loss, Israel. Maya sounds like a wonderful spirit. I know you'll miss her dearly.


  11. That's so sad. Every time I hear of anyone succumbing to a disease like cancer, it makes me so sad yet so happy to be alive. It sounds like Maya at least LIVED in her short life. So many people don't, you know? What a sweet tribute.