Other day, we're leaving the parking garage near the university, after having lunch at the Indian buffet. Reading the signs, I realized I didn't know the name of the street the restaurant was on, a road I've used several hundred times since we moved here (temporarily), last year. I realized, too, that I don't know the name of the restaurant, my favorite in Ann Arbor.
I’m not good at noticing things, extending to items more substantial than street names, and to a degree that would be embarrassing to relate. I put most of myself away in a little box when Weaver died, and hid it, where sometimes I can’t even find it. For a long time I kept her alive by living, vampire-like, inside the pain—which was probably all of me left outside the box that was real— but I let that go, when I met Paula Jane. And set Weaver free. I still retreat inside myself, sometimes—back to my cell, like a lifer who gets parole, frightened how big the outside world has become. Guess I’ll always be like that, not altogether here, or there—just sorta hanging, in between.
Her red and black Dodge Sprint was driving at a high rate of speed on the Texas City levee, the early morning hours of September 15, 1979. It’s the spot where high-schoolers often go parking—bodies of water on both sides of a steep embankment, a one-way road heading north to the flood-gate, with Galveston Bay to the east, which was to a driver’s right. Somewhere along the way, she lost control and rolled off the road to her left, her vehicle hurtling down the grassy incline, coming to rest upside down at the bottom, beside one of the man-made lakes that were created from the displacement of sod that created the levee. It is an ugly, unnatural place to die.
I don’t know how long she remained there unnoticed, but someone said she was alive, even talking, when help came, and remained so for a little while. It took more than an hour to extract her from the mangling, though, and she was gone when they finally did. I don’t permit myself to really think about that.
Anyway, this is from the Glen Falls, NY, obituary index:
Weaver, Teri Lee died 9/15/1979 age 18 Texas City TX Obit date 9/18/1979
That’s it. All I can find. No other mark, on the World-Wide-Motherfucking-Web. Like she was barely here. But that’s not true. She was here, and she mattered, very much.
I loved her. I want you to love her, too, even if it’s only for as long as you read this. I want you to know she walked among us, and that she got a raw deal. I want you to know that she deserved a hell of a lot better, and that the spark of her life was so strong that I can still feel its residual warmth. She was beautiful, no doubt. Hair, chestnut brown, and wavy, giving way to little loops past her shoulders; she wore it long, and sometimes tied it back, revealing little rings that sprigged and flowered around her ears. She had a little gap between her front teeth, and when she was thoughtful, would bite her lip, and do this little clenching thing with her jaw, creating these little dimples on her chin. Her perfume…Well, even now, after all this time, it makes me nearly catatonic. (No, I can’t describe it—it would be like telling you what light smells like, or how air tastes—I just don’t have those words). She was brave, and she was fearless, and she was let down by just about everyone. Especially me.
This is what I remember, but fuck, I don't know what it means, how much it's connected to the reality of who she was. It is a thing I feel, a tight little ball in my chest, that I can never adequately explain or describe. All I can try and do is get close, and maybe it will click with you, maybe you’ll have some idea of what I mean, and who she was, and then you will honor her, too.
Just remember there was a girl. Her name was Teri Weaver. She died when she was 18, and leaving the Earth, took much of what was good, what was bright, and what was living about it with her.
Yeah, just remember that.
I wrote this about her, years back. It’s called "Weaver’s Ode":
Never forgiven this earth
which gave, then took you away.
Cold, careening rock
that hid you under dirt.
Never forgiven the stupid boy
more in love with Love
than love could take;
Who for the sake of Love and Pure
spent your love away.
All was finished that time ago.
Unforgiven, all we turn
and spin, breathe and be
as if you hadn’t been.
What more to say that isn’t said?
Nothing left, but for that I’ve bled
and leave undone—
So sleep, and well, my dreaming one—
And the face of night, which is become
the ghost of all your days, but touched
will turn to one—one light, and such
as star or sun that heaven’s never seen—
And you will be free
Dreaming better dreams.
Last line was sorta robbed from Mark Twain’s The Mysterious Stranger (“Dream other dreams, and better!”)—only steal from the best, I always say.
So, yeah, that’s it. Dream on, Teri. Dream better, and sleep well. I’m here, in my little box, or half-paralyzed out there, but either way…Yeah, I remember.
I’ll always remember.