Mary Anne and I met in a freshman English class at UMass in 1984. We were just joking a few weeks ago about how it’s been 30 years since we graduated. I said “How the hell did that happen?” and she said “Because we’re old.”
But the MA I knew – the one we all knew – was never old. Very often her texts would go on and on about what she was doing and where. (Even her cousin Katherine couldn’t keep up!) The weekend before she died? On Friday, after a full day of work and a train commute home to Rhode Island, she went out for sushi with Billy. On Saturday, she and I spent an entire day walking around the mall, shopping, talking, toasting her birthday with bloody marys. On Sunday, she was with friends at Foxwoods to see the Hollywood Vampires, and then on Monday she celebrated a gorgeous spring day with a drive along the coast and lobster rolls.
THAT, in a big long-weekend nutshell was our Mary Anne.
MA was my best friend, my secret keeper, my sister, my person…and the most fabulous yin to my yang.
Me ever so cautious and worried, the introvert full of specific plans to her come what may, live life to its fullest, hell yeah we’re doing that extrovert with an absolute love of life.
So much so that in recent years, I’ve taken to asking myself WWMAD? As in: What Would Mary Anne Do?
What would Mary Anne do? Mary Anne would say Yes.
YES to the next concert, the Red Sox or Patriots game, the fireworks, the dive bar, the music festival, the movie night, the road trip, the matching tattoos, and one more Hallmark Christmas movie.
YES to the beach. Always.
YES to anything in black, the sales rack, the sparkly earrings, the extra glass of wine. And YES to Dunkin Donuts. Of course.
YES to dancing … anywhere, drinks at the Hard Rock Cafe, going to the symphony, enjoying a home cooked meal, taking a spinning class … or yoga, cheering on her boyfriend’s band.
YES to shopping at the outlets, seeing an art exhibit, wandering a museum, getting tickets to a play, or a long full day at the Big E.
Jump off a 3-foot ledge into the ocean while a crowd cheers? Yes.
Help you check off something on your bucket list? Yes.
YES to coming to your BBQ, your daughter’s dance recital, your campaign event, your nephew’s first birthday, your sons’ soccer game, your girls’ weekend, your wedding, your holiday dinner. Probably all on the same day … usually with a gift … always with that big, sweet, joyful smile.
A smile that said YES, I’ll move in with you. YES I’ll meet you at the winery. YES I’ll be at the party. YES let’s go shopping.
YES, we have to do this again soon.
Not everyone can do that — be so wide open to life and love and friends and experiences. No holds barred. Fearless. Hell yeah, we’re doing that!
And so, in honor of the blessing that was our wonderful, bold and brazen, brave and beautiful Mary Anne Siok, I challenge you — all of you — to say YES a lot more often.
And I thought we could practice right now…ready?