Saturday, December 15, 2007

Amanda Wilding

My friend Amanda Wilding died a few days ago. She was 27.

Amanda was in Boston. She and I worked together for a little more than a year at Borders in Cambridge. I didn't keep in touch with her that much while I was in Korea, but we'd got back in touch more since my return to the U.S., especially via MySpace (gotta love the MySpace! here's Amanda's page) and hanging out during the summers I was in Boston again. Most recently, she and a couple friends of hers have been starting a literary magazine, to which she was encouraging me to submit. And I was promising and swearing and totally meaning to do so, as soon as I got through the bulk of this law school semester.

Amanda was a writer, too. We often bonded about this during our days and nights at Borders (oh, those Friday night closes..such great talks we had, then, when the cats were away and the mice were a-playin'!) She was in school then, getting her English degree at the University of Massachusetts, and then she got a job in editing and publishing, and continued her writing. Yay for her. She was inspiring to all of her friends in many ways, but she always encouraged everyone's writing and other artistic creativity. And she wrote some damn fine poetry.

I knew she was a writer before I even met her. You see, when I transferred to the Cambridge Borders, I took her job as the merchandising supervisor, she moved to the cafe supervisor, the cafe supervisor took the office supervisor position from a departing supe, it was all a big supervisor switcheroo. Well, Amanda knew the incoming replacement supervisor had Borders experience, and merch supe experience even, but she kindly left me a note at my new desk (her old desk) about everything -- where signs were, the booksellers who assisted her, the communication methods, etc. It was helpful, and furthermore, it was a long and well-written note, a page and a half I believe. No one leaves long notes. I know from experience. People write short, terse memos, if that. They send emails that are as concise as possible. In fact, later on in that store, when I faced a vengeful attempt to slam my performance by some vindictive management (long story for another day) my "long emails" were cited as one of the reasons not to give me a raise. But a writer will leave a page-and-a-half handwritten note to the incoming person. And that is awesome, and this writer loved and appreciated it.

Amanda was funny. Big time. Sarcastic, clever, and witty, with great timing. It was tons of fun working with her. She worked hard, and she had fantastic taste in music. Books, too. I had my obsession with reading Pulitzer Prize-winning books (still do), and she had her obsession with reading the winners of the Booker Prize. I loved it. We agreed about a lot of things (Margaret Atwood, Tori Amos) and I learned about other things from her (the Berlin Wall, another of her obsessions, and the heretofore-ignored-by-me virtues of frequent Adult Swim viewing).

I remember the first day I started working there, when she wasn't working (hence the long note!), and I was talking to a couple of the other supervisors, Shaine and Maija, who were very good friends with her. I forget the exact context and conversation, but I distinctly remember Shaine saying, "Amanda has a lot of diseases." It was said in her very Shaine way, which is to say cheerfully matter-of-fact. I remember asking, what does that mean exactly? Well, as I got to know Amanda I learned a bit about her several autoimmune, adrenal, food allergy, diabetes, and other conditions. There was the one time I remember her getting sick and dizzy in the back office (I was useless, asking repeatedly for some unknown reason if she needed a blanket, then running to get Maija and Shaine) but for the most part she would talk about her medicines and vigilantly watch out for the things she couldn't eat, and often check her blood sugar, and then be OK. I knew there were hospital visits. I knew she had contended with her health since childhood. But she was Amanda -- vibrant, hilarious, creative, and a lively light unto us all. Last Monday she got dizzy and dehydrated, went to the hospital, and was not fine. She went into a coma and died.

I was in shock when I got the news from Maija. Over the past few days I've been deeply sad. Also, I could not make it to the funeral in Foxboro, Mass. on Friday, because I had my Constitutional Law final. I asked the dean of student affairs if I could start my final early. I didn't want to reschedule or postpone it, just start it early, like at 7:30 instead of 8:30. Alas, no. Because they only make final schedule changes for deaths of immediate family members. In the end, due to inclement weather all of the Con Law finals got pushed back from 8:30 to 10 a.m., so I couldn't make it at all, not even super late, to the service.

I am really sad. Not just in the crying-on-the-phone-to-my-law-school-dean way (which did happen) or the what-the-hell-can-I-say-or-do way (which is also there). I am very sad for my friends Shaine and Maija, who were close to her. Maija and Amanda were best of friends. And I don't know what on earth her fiance Don can possibly be going through. I got to hang out with him a few times, most notably at their housewarming party at their condo in Salem, and at Amanda's birthday this past summer. He and I became Netflix friends after that. He's great. They were so awesome together. My heart aches for him the most wrenching way I have ever known. Can you imagine being bright young twentysomethings and having your fiancee suddenly die?

I seriously sit here and look at old emails, or MySpace, or my Facebook page where it says "You have been poked by Amanda Lynne Wilding" and I don't want it to ever go away. I want her to live on. Not just in her obituary from the Foxboro Reporter. Not just in her amazing writing. Not just in the hearts of her friends. I want her 27-year-old self back, to live all the life she had left.

9 comments:

Kim Diaz said...

I am sorry for the death of your friend. I can only imagine that she was one of those deeply funny, witty people that made working at B. bearable. Actually, one of those who make life bearable.
My condolences.

Matthew Wilding said...

thanks for writing this.

jnap said...

To Linda, and all the friends of Amanda who will read this, my condolences and sympathy. I look for peace in passings, but sometimes, peace is a long time coming....

J.D. Scrimgeour said...

Hi,
I don't know you and I hardly knew Amanda. She had started coming to a writers' group in Salem that I helped organize. I wanted to thank you for your post, which let me know a little more about her. She was a good writer and listener, and I was quite saddened to learn about her passing.

gmwaite said...

Thank you so much for posting this, Linda. I believe you and I met once when you and Mandy worked at Borders together. It means a great deal to me to read your blog entry because, even if only vicariously, it allows me a few more precious moments with my daughter.

linda said...

I thank everyone here for your comments. I am glad to have provided a glimpse of Amanda and I appreciate your thanks. To her family members, my heart aches for you. I find a little solace in our communal remembering of her on the internet. Strange new world of ours.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this wonderful writing, Amanda would have appriceated it. I am an old friend of hers and am sadly discovering today that an amazing and astonishing person I was once best friends with has tragicly left us,I'm not exactly sure what to do now other than cry and shake.....

darksuns said...

I'am sooooooo sorry someone so close to you passed away like that. I was just scanning blogs and randomly came across this one, and it touched me... so much so that I felt it necessary to let you know.

My deepest sympathies go out to you and her family.

Kind regards,

Josh.

Joshua Locantore said...

forgot to leave you with my link.