Novelist and poet Maggie Estep died unexpectedly early Tuesday morning. I had just been getting close to Maggie, and it’s safe to say I loved her. We were immediate and fast friends. We met through both yoga and writing here in Hudson, New York. (Read the NYT obituary here)
We had a reading together last Friday at Oblong Bookstore in Rhinebeck, NY, and I didn’t want to go because my acne looked bad. Here is an example of Maggie’s beautiful and Buddhist-like, dead pan funny, soul:
Maggie wasn’t old or fat or stupid. She was stick thin and smart and just 50 years old. But that’s why she was so great–she’d happily throw herself under the bus to make someone else feel better. She picked me up and we drove to the bookstore where Dana Kinstler took this photograph of us.
We had a FANTASTIC time at the reading. Laughed our heads off. Made the audience laugh. Drank coffee. Ate chocolate kisses. We were both in black jeans and black boots. In the car when I said, “What the eff” and at another point, “Biatch” Maggie said, “You know you can say ‘fuck’ and ‘bitch’ in my car.” We talked a mile a minute. About pornography, eating disorders, the various relationships in her life and mine, and how we were going to put new books out at the same time and go on book tour together. We were going to get an apartment together and it would be the Seinfeld of 2014. I still have 2 Dominoe sugar packets in my coat pocket from when she asked me to bring her a “fuck ton” of sugar when I went into the gas station for our coffees.
The next morning, 6 days ago, I went to her Saturday morning class at Sadhana Yoga Studio. “Long time no see,” I said when I walked in. I think I asked her if she’d gotten sleep. During class I was in Warrior 2, and she came up to me, took my hand, adjusted my pose. “Fix me,” I said. We looked into each others eyes and smiled. Later that day she texted me:
Maggie: “Am I stupid yoga jerk?”
Me: “No. What do you mean?”
Maggie: “When I teach yoga, do you think ‘what a moron’”?
Me: “No. You make people laugh, keep it real, and you’re challenging.”
Maggie: “God I love you.”
Me: “I love you too!”
On Monday afternoon I was considering going to her yoga class (when I didn’t go, I could be sure to get verbal abuse: Get your ass to class, tramp!) and my phone rang with her calling. I answered, and it was Maggie’s partner, telling me she’d just had a heart attack.
I have many more things I’d like to say but I’m going to end here for now because it hurts. And there are dozens of lovely tributes to her on the internet you can find that articulate her beauty and strength and all around amazing-ness. Here is my favorite song that played on Maggie’s yoga mix each week. If I can live my life half as full of love and light as Maggie did, I will be glad.
The impermanence of life is a scary thing. Tell your friends you love them.