The cliche is true – you never know what you have until it’s gone.
My friend Christine Waddill McGuire died on October 25th, 2010. I am writing this in her memory. [/awkward introduction]
Christine was, well in a word, she was intense. No matter if it was a person, item, job or idea, if she loved it, she loved it with a total lack of restraint. Her passion for the things she loved was strong, so so strong. And the people, hobbies, ideas she didn’t like? She showed no shame in dismissing them. Yeah, you could say she was rash at times. And maybe didn’t possess the most tact. But love? She poured it out of her if you let her into your life. If you could accept the loud, obnoxious personality on the outside, you would reach a gooey marshmallow center. She volunteered and gave. Gave to those who asked and gave to those who she knew would never ask. Literally gave blood as often as humanly possible, gave her nights to the USO, gave her ear to anyone that needed it.
The pleasure of handling a nice textile? It made her day. Baking an awesome loaf of whole wheat bread? Possibly made her week. Taking a beautiful picture? That would have made her month, at least. And finding an incredible man, and husband like Matt? Changed her life. I watched her transform, quite a bit, from freshman year of college [August 2003 was when we met] until this year. And, even though I regrettably had not spoken with her much in the last year, I knew she was on the right track in life. She loved to travel, loved it, road tripping and exploring and discovered that the West was where her heart was. [And the postcards, the postcards. Every. Single. Place. she visited appeared in my mailbox via postcards. It was amazing.] She actually had an idea of what her true dream was, after, from what I could see, years of unsure ideas. Colorado was where it was at, and that was where she was. For us to lose her at 25, well, to paraphrase what Matt said at the memorial, it’s the world’s loss.
But why is it relevant for me to be writing about this on a food-focused endeavor? [Besides that it’s my damn website and I can do what I want.] Because, the more I think about it, the more I see Christine’s influence in me.
- Who excitedly told me about CSAs for the first time?
- Who baked whole wheat loaves of bread all the damn time?
- Who made at least one batch of refrigerator jam?
- Who made hummus like it was going out of style?
- Who took advantage of the crockpot any time she could?
- Who showed me the awesome trick of flat-freezing liquids (like homemade soup stock)?
- Who encouraged cook-for-the-week habits?
That was all Christine. Just like with all things, when she fell into the domestic world, she fell hard. She wasn’t always into it, leaving a tornado’s trail as she went. But cooking, baking, couponing, making every dollar stretch while eating very well? She was into it. And as I finally took the time to sit back and think about it, her culinary influence seems so important. So, even though it pains me to write about her in the past tense. Even though composing some semblance of a fluid thought has felt entirely awkward, it’s necessary.
On the flip side, don’t get me wrong, she was not perfect. Indeed, she could be an utter bitch when she wanted to. But the honesty, and sometimes pure spite was just another part of her. She could be a cold, hard rain, a warm, sunny glow or a sudden, pricking hail. Is it any surprise that the day of her memorial involved all three things? The day started with that gray, chilled rain, transitioned to a sunny afternoon just in time for the outdoor memorial. And then, as we were leaving the memorial, it started hailing. Still incredibly bright and sunny out, but with an insane thirty minutes of icy cold hail. The weather on Saturday represented Christine’s personality, and it did so almost a little too honestly.
It still feels unreal. It still feels raw. I still haven’t cried all I can cry. But I try to remember the pure joy she spread and keep letting the happy times outweigh the sad. A mutual friend (and very close friend to Christine) has a quote in the memorial slideshow that so powerful, meant so much to me that I’ll end with that. My goal for this life is to live these words, as well.
You will always live in my memory. I promise to never forget the way you lived. I promise to make my own life better so that I can live for the both of us. I love you and will miss you forever.
– Britta Waldbauer