Marylyn

I was worried, because I hadn’t heard from her at Christmas in the last few years, not even just a signed card. I made out my Christmas card list today, and when I wrote, “Marylyn,” I stopped and looked at it and hoped, and hoped, and wondered.

And tonight I find that my Marylyn died on Tuesday night.

She was my seventh grade English teacher, one of the two absolutely formative English teachers I had as a writer. (Ron Gabriel is gone from us also.) After that she was my friend, genuinely and honestly my friend, and we would get together and have coffee and pie at the Garden Cafe. She was one of the first adults who was my friend when I was a kid, not because of my parents but because of me, one of the first adults who taught me how good that can be, being friends across decades. The kids I have in my life, if I am good for them at all, owe a portion of that goodness to Marylyn Bremmer.

I feel like I should be able to put words on the flood of memories I have, on her merry laugh and her grave tones of serious advice, on the time she terrified a room full of smartass seventh graders into maybe taking a little better care with each other from then out. On the imitation she did of a Texan doing Mark Antony’s funeral oration. On the way she looked at the description I’d written of my friend Becca and said, “She sounds so very much like my Charlotte,” and we could talk about girl friends and lasting friends and what all that meant. I’ll pull myself together and write something coherent in the condolence letter to her family. But mostly I just keep hearing her chuckling in my head, saying, “Now remember, dear, when you publish your first novel, make sure the dedication page has it m-a-r-Y-l-y-n.”

Do not approve. Am not resigned.

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