Aimee's laughter, as many friends and family have shared, didn't just tumble from her mouth. It exploded. I've seen her drop to the floor laughing, like when she received in the mail a certain bridesmaid dress with a rather large "ass bow" on the rear. Her laughter infected everyone in the room.
We shared many private laughs, too, many laughs late at night or early in the morning, laughs to heal hurts and lift each other when life sucked.
While discussing The Things They Carried the other day, a student shared a memory which in turn sparked an Aimee memory--these little grief land mines are everywhere these days. I remembered Thanksgiving eve 1999. Coaching duties at Free State High School prevented Aimee from going home to St. Louis for the holiday, so we visited my aunt and uncle in Kansas City. On the eve, we dined at Panda Garden (still my favorite Chinese-American in Larryville), and crashed in her bed later, telling stupid stories and laughing for hours.
She had a way with the kids, too, especially when they were little. Aimee made all our babies spew fiery little baby giggles. She taught us all to lay on the floor, heads resting on each-others' laps, and laugh. (One you should try, folks. Sounds nutty, but it works.)
I still laugh, and I will keep laughing. But it stings a little. It feels hollow and cheap like the ringing of an ill-made bell. I don't know if it's exactly guilt I feel, or something else. I miss Aimee's falling-down and rolling around laughter, but I'm thankful for such rich memories.