Do you know the laugh of each of your friends? Can you hear their laugh in your mind without them present? Can you picture them laughing?
I have listened to and loved the laugh of Ellen Andary since she went by her maiden name (Monahan) and I had yet to turn 20 years-old. For 37+ years I have heard Ellen Andary laugh with me and at me. Because Ellen Monahan was gracious enough to marry my friend from childhood (grade school – high school and college) Mike Andary, she has had an enormous amount of material provided to her so as to laugh, cry, or both – in complete disbelief that two guys (or three, or four, or more) could be so stupid. I really want to say it was Mike being stupid in the majority of cases – but that would be inaccurate and all of you know better.
When you have vacationed with someone, been their distance running partner, only guy to regularly go with them to their aerobics class (Jeff, Ellen and Becky Curtis – in the Jane Fonda Leg Warmer era) and shared the ups and downs of life – a laugh is going to be heard on a regular basis. When you have grown older with a friend and get to watch your adult children knowing and experiencing part of their lives together – a laugh is going to be heard. The last time I was the beneficiary of hearing Ellen’s laugh is when we all got together in East Lansing this fall for Homecoming at MSU.
Ellen’s laugh begins with her moving her neck and head slightly backward and then from the upper reaches of her throat comes a continuous rolling chuckle-ish like sound accompanied by a beautiful smile, finishing with a slight sigh. If I am present, the subject involves me, and something stupid – Ellen follows all of it up with a roll of the eyes, a knowing look over to Linda as says “nice job Jeffy.”
Today I cannot command, or create a situation to hear Ellen laugh. I pray each day the situation will change. She is presently in a coma in Sparrow Hospital (Lansing MI) as the result of a head-on car crash on Friday December 5th 2014 created by a three-time convicted drunk driver (on probation) traveling the wrong way (while intoxicated) on a highway. The vehicles collided at a combined 157+ mph. Ellen was a passenger in the car hit by the drunk driver. She was returning from her youngest son’s (Steven) high school hockey game in Grayling MI with Scott Kuhnert, father of Holden – the Patriots goalie. Despite living 1,841 miles and two time zones almost due west of East Lansing MI., news travels fast. Our mutual friend Dave Pruder soon learned of the situation and had the presence of mind to call me quickly thereafter. After I hung up with Dave I immediately called Mike.
Dr. Scott Kuhnert, the husband of Kristine, father of Holden, Max and Quinn, and fellow Michigan State Spartan died instantly. The drunk driver died instantly. Ellen survived and had been life flighted from the accident (north of Mt. Pleasant MI – Linda’s home town) to the hospital. Incredibly, my buddy – Dr. Michael Andary – one of the finest Physiatrists in the nation (he does not like such credit but the fact is his peers recognized him as the very best earlier this year) is equipped to deal with the situation. Mike has stepped up at a tough time – as is always the case – and is handling it with grace and (as usual) humor. If you want to see how multiple hundreds of individuals can collect in almost an instant and support a friend or simply want to offer a prayer – the link to the site is [here].
I do have a request, if not a command. Take a moment out of your day…this day…if not this very second and contact a friend and say hi. If only for the simple reason to catch up and connect – perhaps to even hear them laugh.