It’s been one year since I lost my college roommate, Margo Parkes. It seems that the 50s have brought so much unexpected loss, not only of family members, but of peers who really shouldn’t be leaving us so early. Perhaps it’s because we see ourselves as perpetual 20-year-olds, or perhaps death holds a mirror up to our own mortality. Whatever the reason, it’s a time of life where we learn to appreciate those around us, the blessing of their presence and the fragility of life as a whole.
It was my freshman year of college. Central Michigan University. The Wayside bar. I was in the ladies’ room primping, I’m sure, for my crush Rich Baskins – just in case he happened to show up that night. Brushing my hair in the mirror, a girl next to me asked if she could use my brush. I looked over and there she was. It was “That Beautiful Girl” I had seen around campus. I mean stunning to the point that she stood out from everyone else around her. Mt. Pleasant’s own supermodel before supermodels were super. And here she was, asking me to use my brush. Of course, I obliged, thinking that somehow her beautiful blondness would rub off on me and I would catch a little of her reflection. It couldn’t hurt.
Cut to sophomore year. I changed dorms and moved into Saxe-Herrig Hall.
My first day walking down the hallway to class, there she was again. “That Beautiful Girl.” She lived on my floor and said hi as she walked by. I’m sure she didn’t remember using my brush – but as silly as it was – I never forgot it. Her name was Margo Burry. She was from Bloomfield Hills and was every bit as nice as she was pretty. Through that semester, she, her roommates Julie, Karen, Beth and Mary and I became friends. We hung out, did things together and became very close. So close that, when we all decided to move out of the dorms our junior year, I moved into a house on High Street with all of them.
Oh the fun we had. Football players and parties, Slivovitza and Newport Lights. Too much (and some too personal) to write here, but trust me, we left no stone unturned. I spent a Spring Break with Margo and her family that year at their condominium in Naples, Florida. I made out with a boy whose name escapes me, whose dad owned a bait & tackle shop in Naples.
Life was good.
We moved from High Street to Main Street our senior year. Margo got a red convertible Mustang for her graduation. I remember her dad pulling up in front of our house – a big bow on the top of the car. We all piled in and drove around campus, feeling free as birds just having our four-year college education come to a close.
After graduation, we all kept in touch for awhile, especially Margo and I because we lived pretty close to one another. Margo got married to Brian, a really nice guy who became a doctor. Margo served as a matchmaker for me a couple of times, fixing me up with friends. Though none of those dates ever turned into anything more serious, I always appreciated her for thinking enough of me to introduce me to her guy pals. After awhile, we all went our separate ways. I was a stand-up comic and was traveling around the country. Margo moved to North Carolina and started a family. I visited her once when I was playing down south, just after her oldest daughter Samantha was born. I remember thinking how grown up she was – with a real house and family. I was a gypsy driving from state-to-state, still living at my parents’ house whenever I’d come back to town.
Margo had it all.
A couple of years ago we reconnected on Facebook. Margo was beautiful as ever. I sent her a message and we corresponded. I found out that she had been diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer a couple of years earlier, but was in remission. With both of my parents going through it – and surviving – I thought for sure Margo was out of the woods. In all of the photos I saw of her, she looked healthy and happy. This was my last correspondence with her:
We did the, “Oh if you’re ever out in L.A./If you’re ever in North Carolina, look me up,” thing. But it never came to fruition. This morning, our former roommate, Julie, texted me asking if I had seen Margo’s Facebook page. Something was amiss and she wanted to check it out. I searched around and, there it was. Margo passed away today. It hit me hard on many levels, one of which was I never checked up on her. As we all know, life gets busy, we all get wrapped up in what we’re doing and I simply never checked back. I’d see her face (as in the above post from October) and assume she was okay. And it saddens me to find out that she wasn’t. And that I never replied to the post above because I never saw it.
I should have kept in touch.
Tonight I raise a glass to “That Beautiful Girl” who was kind and generous and smart and loving. She was a wonderful mother, a loyal sister, a dedicated wife and a friend. To Brian, Samantha, Caroline and Margo’s sister, Natalie, I send my love. Heaven is a more beautiful place today with Margo in it.
In one of our last emails, Margo wrote, “Looking forward to putting my toes in the sand even if it is only for a few hours!”
I hope wherever you are there is sand and sun and healing light. And may none of us forget to put our toes in the sand a little more often while we’re here.
Rest in peace, Beautiful Girl.
Contributed by: Lisa Goich
Lisa Goich-Andreadis is an author, talk radio host, former comedian and Detroit native living in Los Angeles. She manages the Jazz & Comedy Fields for The GRAMMY Awards. Married to Guns ‘n Roses keyboardist, Teddy ‘Zig Zag’ Andreadis, the two share a home with four dogs in the San Fernando Valley area of L.A. Lisa blogs regularly for the Huffington Post and can be heard as a special guest on “The Mitch Albom Show” on WJR-AM in Detroit. Lisa’s memoir, “14 Days,” will be released November 10, 2015 and is available for pre-order on Amazon. For more information on Lisa and her projects, visit her website at http://www.lisagoich.com.
This article previously posted at A Girl On The Go.