Twenty Years

This post has nothing to do with knitting and everything to do with remembering.

Miriam Luby Wolfe
September 26, 1968 - December 21, 1988
Severna Park, Maryland

Twenty years ago my friend, Miriam Luby Wolfe, was murdered in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 above Lockerbie, Scotland. She was 20 years old—a junior at Syracuse University. We met the summer before, when we both worked at Darian Lake, a theme park outside of Buffalo, New York, where we sang and danced in shows produced by Showbiz International. I had turned 19 just before rehearsals began; she would turn 20 just after we ended the summer. I performed in the mainstage show; Miriam performed in the outside show with one of my summer housemates, Deb. Anyone who's performed in theme park shows knows how close everyone becomes, even those who don't particularly like each other... and often that's just because of the closeness. Although we weren't in the same show, I was around Miriam quite a bit through Deb, and I liked her very much. She projected life, with a powerfully optimistic personality and a contagious enthusiasm. And she had the most amazing hair! Gorgeous, red, springy curls. They seemed to symbolize her very spirit, bouncing high upon her head. We exchanged addresses at summer's end and vowed to stay in touch. Along with some others, we talked of having a get-together during the holidays, after she returned from her study-abroad semester in London.

I will never forget receiving the voice message, just days before Christmas, saying Miriam had been on that flight. Shock. Tears. Grief. Deep sadness. The weather was terrible that year. I was lucky to make the drive home for Christmas from college; it simply wasn't safe enough to drive to Maryland for the memorial service—and I wasn't getting on a plane. At my family home, I poured through every bit of news about the tragedy I could find, eagerly looking for something yet also sorely dreading that (worse) I might actually see something.

In my video library, I have a tape from that summer filmed by one of the guys from our show. There is video of both shows, as well as a little walk around the area where we worked. I've always turned it off when it gets to the headshots of the outside show performers. It's still hard to think about seeing Miriam performing... but perhaps that's the best way to see her: singing and dancing in that upbeat show, her curls keeping their own, lofty rhythm, her joy visible in every moment.

Twenty years have passed. In many ways, I don't feel the time, but I can't deny that it's passed. Miriam's mother, Rosemary Mild, found a way through her grief to write a book titled Miriam's Gift: A Mother's Blessing—Then and Now, which was published in 2000, the same year my daugther was born. I'd like very much to read her book.

To Miriam's mother, Rosemary: I am very sorry I could not make the trip to Maryland for the memorial service. That has always bothered me. I knew your daughter a relatively short time, but I remember her well—and not only in those moments when I am reminded by newscasts of the anniversary. I admire your strength and perseverance in the face of the unimaginable. Thank you for the gift that was your daughter.


soknitpicky said...

What a wonderful tribute to your friend

Elizabeth said...

This is nice, Z. I know her mom would appreciate it. Good memories of a person are the best to have!