|Brandi and I at summer camp, She loaned me some of her Illinois clothes on Team Spirit Day!|
This morning my friend Karin sent me an email with two attachments. The body of the email said that she had been meaning to send the attached photos to me. The first one was of her and I toasting martinis at Joe’s on Juniper. The second was the one you see above. It is of me and a girl named Brandi Zimmerman. Actually she was a young woman but that is simply semantics. She was an intern at the company I was working for. As a member of the University of Illinois Women’s Wheelchair Basketball team she also served as a mentor to all of the young kids in our program who had disabilities and dreamed of playing collegiate ball. Born with Cerebral Palsy, Brandi was introduced at an early age to adapted sports and competed in various sports all of her life. As you can see by the photo she was as pale as pale could get and it earned her the nickname CRACKIE, as she was as white as a cracker. She ate junk food non-stop and got me hooked on laffy taffy. All of the kids adored her. All of her teammates thought she was a great leader.
One Friday her and I were shooting the shit over some boring mass mail project. We were laughing, talking about random food, stupid people, and other things you chat about to past the time. When I left work that day I was looking forward to repeating the same tedious chore on Monday because it would mean more chat time with Brandi. On the following afternoon, while driving back from a basketball tournament a car cut in front of her SUV, it barrel rolled and and she was seriously injured. I will never forget the helplessness I felt when another coworker, Susan, called me to give me the news. I had gone to Athens for the weekend and me and the group I was with had a few too many beers to drive back. A few hours passed and Susan called back to say that Brandi had succomed to her injuries.
They never found the person who caused the accident.
Upon visiting the car impound to retrieve her personal belongings from the devistated car, two friends saw something quite funny and very Brandi. Bottles of mayo and mustard she had in the car had exploded from the extreme heat. There was food EVERYWHERE! Apparently the girl was always eating or thinking about eating just as we would joke.
When we held a memorial service for her that story of condiment mania in her car was told, along with tales of her love of the color pink, and infinite hair accessory collection. We served soda, twinkies, and laffy taffy afterwards, and had the organist play”Whiter Shade of Pale”. We managed to actually celebrate HER and not have a pity party.
While Karin thought I would feel melancholy from seeing her picture I actually was happy. I am happy to have had her in my life. Happy to have gotten to know her. Happy to be one of the people who took pictures and laughed at her after she was duct tapped to her bed one summercamp. The guys actually got it to stand on its end so everyone could stand and posed for pictures with Brandi laughing her ass off.
Never feel sad. Just remember the goodtimes.