To my dear friend…


Me and JessTo my dear friend,

I’ve come across your picture a hundred times, your name keeps popping up on my Facebook news feed as someone to invite or like.  Each time it happens, my heart aches with grief.

It’s been a very difficult few weeks and I’ve struggled with what to say and how to feel.  Your passing has left so many with endless unanswered questions- what happened, why, how did it get to this point?  Sadly, none of it matters because you are gone, leaving traces of yourself in our hearts and memories; leaving the very image of yourself in your beautiful little girl.

Everyone grieves differently and I’ll never judge others in their celebration of your life.  But you knew me better than most and I know you’ll understand if I don’t raise a Bud Light in your honor or toast a cocktail to your memory.  I won’t honor you by highlighting the very vices that changed your life, your daughter’s life forever.

You were so much more than that.  So much more than the insecurities you struggled with. You were a daughter, a mother, a best friend; a sister to me.  I have thirty-three years of memories with you, a lifetime.   So I know you’ll excuse me if I don’t raise a drink in your name, but instead remember you for who you really were and who you could have been.

I’ll remember you when we first met in kindergarten when a fellow classmate’s glass eye popped out and rolled across the linoleum floor and how we stare in horrified amazement, feeling equally sorry for him as well as finding the humor in it.  I’ll remember your perfectly colored brown teddy bear picture and how I wished so badly that mine looked the same.

I’ll remember when we were in second grade and I gave you a fairly explicit lesson on childbirth as we sat in the elementary library and perused the How Babies Are Born book.  I’ll remember crossing over the bridge with you in Girl Scouts and fighting with you over the precious moments Christmas card for our Christmas placemat project.   I’ll remember calling you Nellie Olson.

I’ll remember my fourth grade locker room fight when you screamed, “Get her, Sadie!” and then hugged me later and told me you were sorry.  I’ll remember the time I felt ill in fifth grade and the substitute teacher wouldn’t let me go to the nurse.  I got sick in the garbage can and you held my hair out of my face and rubbed my back.  After, you walked me to the nurse and helped me wash my face and hands.

I’ll remember Girl Scout camp and singing “Down by the banks of the hanky panky,” NKOTB, your pink Kaboodle and stinky electric youth perfume.  I’ll remember the first time you kissed Matt Mayo, and when we traveled to Boston and Europe.

I’ll remember playing the Ouija board with you at Becky Stever’s sleepover party and how it said I was going to marry “Chris.”  We laughed about it years later when I did.

I’ll remember going to Hornell High School dances with you and Jamie Harwood.  I’ll remember picking you up every morning of our senior year and dragging your butt out of bed.  I’ll remember our college spring break trip to Panama City and our 30 plus hour bus ride and the guy with beer farts.

I’ll remember your apartment on Hart Street where I taught you how to make mashed potatoes and how we would sit on the front porch and watch thunderstorms.

I’ll remember the countless Christmas Eves we spent together, from the time we were in high school to years later when you were writing the Santa letter for my little ones.  Each Christmas, when I decorate my tree, I’ll remember you as I place each precious ornament you gave me on it.

I’ll remember you holding my gown so I could go to the bathroom at my wedding and how you told me I was so beautiful.  I’ll remember giving the speech at your wedding and how relieved you were that one of us spoke on your behalf.

I’ll never forget our trip to New Hampshire in a snow storm, when you told me you could ski and we quickly found out you could not.

I’ll remember how you loved fall because I loved fall so much and how you’d call me when you were putting your decorations up.

I’ll remember the hours I spent with you as you worked so hard to bring your beautiful child into this world.  I’ll remember that you were an amazing mother, who loved her daughter very much.  I’ll remember you for having the gift of loving people so much and being able to have such amazing, individualized relationships with so many.

I’ll remember the countless hours of laughter, tears and conversation we had.

I’ll pray for your soul and hope it finds peace.  I’ll honor your memory by never forgetting who you really were.  I have these memories and so many more and I promise to pass them on to your precious child and watch over her while you’re not here.  I’ll keep you in my heart forever.  I’ll honor you this way because you were so much more, my friend; my sister.

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