This is my childhood friend.
She passed away suddenly yesterday.
It’s hard to process the loss of a person who was a giant part of half of your life. She was always a big sister figure to me. Good and bad 🙂
I had just started jr high at a new school. A Catholic school, no less. I had the full uniform and glasses and bushy eyebrows to seal the deal. My friend educated me first.
“You have to roll your skirt. Like this…”
“Do NOT leave your socks up to your knees and PLEASE untuck your shirt.”
She saved me from countless beatings by doing this, certainly! Well, at the very least some hushed gossip and finger pointing, and i have always been thankful for the start of our friendship. We walked home the same direction together. She was way more worldly and cool than I. She was, afterall, two whole years older than me. I worked up the courage to ask her one day, “Will you be my best friend?” Her reply was, “No. I already have too many of those.” The joke was on her, though, because from then on she couldn’t get rid of me. We did become best friends.
She got to do everything first. High school. Grad night and graduation. Driving. Dating. Make up. Vegas. Annual Disneyland pass.
She always shared the experience with me, though. More so, she was beside me for my own. I always had sort of a protector. A buffer. I was certain she was the smartest teenager of all time. She had the biggest bangs of all time, and that alone was impressive.
Us at Disneyland
In processing what has happened, i’ve thought a lot about our friendship these past 25 years of my life. I frantically went searching for pictures and anything I could find to let me hold a tangible piece of her.. but it didn’t work. I found how little evidence i have of our friendship together. This was before cell phone “selfies” and duck face collages. We have a few pictures together, but how many do i have of me standing with my brothers? Not many more. We were together every single day, she and I.
She lured me into the sordid life of a city band color guard. This band was the apex of our high school lives. .. mine, anyway. We wrote notes back and forth folded into various geometric impossibilities filled with talk of band crushes and countdowns until practice.
Notes, kids, are something teenagers did before texting. Pen and paper. Sometimes both sides, and on a rrrreally gossipy day, TWO pages! .. or if there was a substitute teacher.
These notes were passed in the hallway on the way to 3rd period. She took me into her circle of juniors when i was a lowly freshman. She packed extra lunch and was irritated when i needed it. Big sister stuff.
Summers were spent driving to the mall in PV or Del Amo in her black Karmann Ghia. Oingo Boingo blasting. Complete with finger choreography. Depeche Mode on melancholy mornings. She introduced me to Les Miserable and Phantom of the Opera. We played these tapes over and over screeching at the top of our voices with the windows down heading to the beach.
Somehow I have to understand that’s all i’ll ever have of her now.
June 1st would have been her 39th birthday.
Her mother will have to bury her daughter in a matter of days. More sad than that even is that her mother has had to bury their entire family over the span of the last 7 years. One husband, two children, and as i understand it, a week ago she lost her own father.
I cannot fathom this reality for her. She was always the sweetest most incredible happy smiling mom. The type of mom you secretly wished was your own .. or at the very least an aunt.
It’s taken me a day to understand this has happened. She and I grew apart once we grew up, got married, and i had kids. She was never unavailable, we kept in touch through Facebook and exchanged emails over the past three or four years. We both moved around quite a bit and computer connections were somehow easier. I always had her number and knew if i ever needed to call, i could. I hope she knew the same. I’d like to think so.
This was the bachelorette trip to Disneyland (with my 4 month old son) and here we are at her wedding the next day
I am so sad to say goodbye to you so soon, my friend. Though we didn’t talk all the time, it didn’t mean you weren’t in my mind and heart. I wont say “a piece of me is now missing” because you would snort and roll your eyes. I will say, however, there will forever be something missing. Plans we had to get together once you moved closer will not be realized now. Long fuming ranting emails about something now seemingly unimportant will never be read. I mourn the childhood friend who will never know my own children. My bright, sarcastic, smiling friend will be with her father and brother whom she missed dearly. You will never be forgotten.