I met Lily in 1975. She was a full time art student, and part time bartender at The Cock & Bull Pub, in Founder’s College. In those days of politically fueled metaphysics and drug induced socialism, she was a wet dream some true. She was from Uruguay, and moved with her family up here in the early 1970’s. She was beautifully South American, with an accent that could render most men speechless, and most women sick with envy.
The Cock & Bull was my pub in those days, drinking Labbatt’s and discussing Camus & Kierkegaard, Dylan and Ginsberg, and Thompson and Kerouac. In those self absorbed moments of pseudo-poetic philosophy, her face brought me back to the essence of real beauty. She was always smiling, with a smile that illuminated the room, and dark eyes wide open, accepting of everyone, warm and welcoming. I fell in love with Lily, right there at The Cock & Bull, as I pondered life’s purpose over pints of lager and lime, from a table on the other side of the bar. We would speak occasionally, and our encounters soon included those signature smiles that so often indicate ‘I like you’, and those knowing glances from across the room.
One day, in one of our brief encounters, she informed me that our little group of liberal arts socialists, was the only one she could really tolerate. She hated the arrogant and abrasive jocks, and was bored to death by the business and science majors. We were, it seemed, the chosen ones. “We should go out sometime.”, I told her.
“Whenever you’re ready.”, she said. “All you have to do is ask.”
We dated for the rest of that school year, and she became one of the best friends I ever had. Long after we stopped our romantic tryst, we hung out together, catching movies and concerts, and just sitting in her dorm room on campus getting high. She called me once when she was sick, wanting me to bring her soup and cold medication, and I suppose to keep her company. When she found a spider in her room, I got the call to come and exterminate it. Sometime in 1976 or 1977, I was hospitalized and required surgery. When I woke in my room, I found Lily sitting there, patiently waiting for me to wake. “Hey”, I managed to blurt out.
“Hey, yourself.”, she said. “You really need to stop all of this attention seeking shit.”
“Ya.”, I said. “Thanks for being here.”
“Where else would I be?”, she responded. “Are you doing okay?”
“Ya.”, I told her.
“Good.”, she stated. “I have something for you. I hope it cheers you up.” And then Lily stood up, closed the drapes that separated my roommate’s bed from mine, undid her trench coat, and revealed her totally naked body.
“Are you fucking crazy?”, I asked.
“Yep.”, she replied. “Now, I take it your not feeling up to tackling this right now, so I guess I’ll just have to do it myself.” And with that, she sat on the chair, legs draped over the arm rests, and proceeded to masturbate in front of me, right there in my hospital room. “You need to get your ass out of here.”, she said when she was done. “I miss having you around.” .
“I’m working on it.”, I said as she was heading out of the room. “Best hospital visit ever.”
“Wait until you see what I have planned for tomorrow’s visit.”, she remarked, as the door was closing behind her.
Lily died in 1978, the victim of a drunk driver. She was 21 years old. She was a beautiful soul, and a wonderful friend. She made me laugh, and she made me cry. It took me a very long time to get over her passing, and much longer to be able to speak about it. There have been a handful of people in my life who have touched me deeply. I hope they know who they are. There’s just some sort of connection beyond what our senses can understand. Its a love for another that is so deep, it requires a minimal amount of effort to maintain. Absence does nothing to hinder it.
I think about Lily a great deal. I never told her just how much I loved her, but I hope she knew. Its been almost 40 years, and I still miss her. I suppose I always will.