Brooke and I met in 1990. She and I worked for a company called Entertainment Partners in Burbank, California. We were, without question, cut from the same cloth. We hung out all the time making each other laugh and talking about the mysteries of life, love and the universe. I adored her and can say with utter confidence she adored me as well.
Brooke could make me laugh more than anyone. She was what I called a guy-girl. Very pretty and feminine but could burp like nobody’s business and kick your ass at pool. She was a delicate flower but had a mouth that could make a longshoreman blush. Men flocked to her like moths to a flame because she was totally sexy and liked to tell dirty jokes. Women hated her for the exact same reasons.
I adored her.
One of her favorite things to do was to pantomime giving me a blowjob while sailing down the 101 freeway in my pickup truck. She had a beautiful head of thick wavy black hair that would fluff up and down over my lap while other drivers would stare in astonishment.
If we were in public she would, without warning, shout out “I told you mister, leave me alone! What do you want from me?! Stop following me!” and then run away leaving me standing there with a shopping mall full of people staring at me like I was some perverted asshole.
We had our own language–little isms that only the two of us understood.
Eventually our paths took us in different directions but Brooke and I managed to stay in touch over the past nineteen years. Every once in a while we would both send out “the signal” and within a matter of hours or sometimes days we’d be on the phone with each other and in typical fashion, the time between us would melt away as if we had just spoken yesterday. We were connected by some cosmic cord.
We both wanted to be writers and encouraged each other. I was so proud of her when she wrote a children’s book about a boy living with HIV (her younger brother died from HIV complications years ago). She pushed me to start (and continue) blogging and would laugh when I mentioned my “tens” of readers.
We relied on each other for occasional spiritual checkups over the phone. It seemed like every time we talked we were both sharing a new success story and discussing the next new creative thing we were going to do with our lives. I managed to get my college degree at the age of thirty-three and she, bless her heart, was just a few credits shy of getting her AA at forty six. She wanted to become a psychiatrist so she could help others who had been though rough times. Her childhood was something left to be desired.
While driving to the gym this morning, I had a fleeting thought of Brooke. The signal was coming through loud and clear. I had plans to workout, install my studio equipment and then shoot some timelapse of the impressive cloud coverage we were having. I figured Brooke and I would be catching up on the phone at some point during the day.
I was sitting in my office wrapping up my studio project. The timelapse was clicking away in the backyard when the phone rang. Ray looked at the caller ID and said “Who’s David Clavet?” “That’s Brooke’s husband” I said. Excited, I motioned for him to hand me the phone. I clicked the talk button.
“I was totally just thinking of you!” I shouted.
“Hello?” I said.
“Is this Bob?” It was a man’s voice.
“Yes.” My stomach tightened.
In the mish-mash of recollection, all I can remember was hearing “Brooke blah blah blah passed away blah blah stroke or aneurysm blah blah blah forty-seven years old blah four children…
Dead…like no longer alive. No longer breathing. No more laughing. No more catching up. No more pantomimed blowjobs. No more Brooke-isms…
The worst, worst part is that she died in early September. Her husband couldn’t find my phone number.
From what I can piece together, she was at home in the kitchen and suddenly collapsed. Her son asked if she was OK as she started to stand up. She said she was fine and as she got up she collapsed again.
By the time she got to the hospital, she was paralyzed on her right side and could not speak. They inserted a feeding tube. Over a few days, she started to improve. The tube was removed and they started therapy. Her speech started to come back. One day, she complained that her head hurt and then, just like that, she quietly slipped away. If only I had known, I could have seen her one last time.
I hung up the phone. Brooke had been dead for months but somehow, through her husband, she still managed to send out “the signal”. With that realization, I started to cry. A little part me died too.
Oh my God Brooke, you can’t be dead! You’re my other half. You make me laugh. You’re one of my most favoritest people in the whole world! We loved each other unconditionally. You are one of the only people in the world who understands the inner workings of me. We still had so much to experience!! We’re not done living–you’re not done living!!
After a good long cry, I collected my camera equipment. The timelapse had been shooting for a hours (Ray managed to get into a few frames). I plugged everything into my computer. When I first saw the footage, I could feel Brooke there with me. Seeing time moving along so quickly reminded me that life is indeed a fleeting moment and should be savored like a fine wine. It should also be used, abused and bruised. Don’t ever stop living just because you might get hurt.
To quote Auntie Mame (one of our favorite movies), “Life is a banquet and most poor suckers are starving!” Brooke and I tried to live by that saying.
She used to say she couldn’t wait to grow old and be that crazy old lady on the end of the street screaming at the kids to “git off mah lawn” while squirting them with the garden hose. I guess that won’t be happening after all.
This video is for you Brooke. I love you very, very much. Please put in a good word for me wherever you are and remember, if you’re in heaven, you may want to watch your language.