Posts Tagged ‘childhood’

My childhood friend passed when she was twelve. To comfort me, my father often pointed to his heart, or mine, and said that my friend continues through us, the living. Young and grieving, I didn’t always agree. 

Now that I am getting married in about a month, I think of her more often. I start to focus on her absences: she won’t be at the wedding ceremony or the reception. She wasn’t at my makeup trial when I wore foundation and bought my first tube of it at thirty-three. She missed the romantic proposal story in Italy, a country she never traveled to. She isn’t here. 

If she were, she would have giggled about a few of my wedding plans and kept things light. I bet she would have thought using dried fruit and vegetables in the centerpieces as absurd. When I panicked about various choices – is the musician for the ceremony the right kind? – She would have turned hear head a little, squinted with mischievousness and told a joke to make me laugh.

In seventh grade, I sat on the classroom counter, next to the art sink, when she told me that she was dying. She paced a little and looked down at the floor. Her extremities were swollen from her disease or medication; I didn’t understand. It was as if she had a speech prepared and she managed to get through every word. I wanted to jump off the counter and throw myself at her feet. Instead, I sat still on the counter, maybe swinging my feet a little, trying to understand her words. I couldn’t comprehend life without her. How could someone who was standing in front of me during recess, die and leave me? I felt selfish, even then. 

My memories are vivid. I went to sleep with a wet face, thinking that if I was really good, I’d get to see her again. I told the boys at my birthday party a few months later that I couldn’t answer their questions and reveal which one she’d liked. I’d promised her and I kept my promise. I liked a boy who listened to heavy metal and I pretended I liked it. I told my friend how much I liked it and later felt embarrassed when she laughed at the lyrics. After all, we were still middle school girls.

She remains present. I still have part of her phone number memorized. I wear a bracelet like the one she used to wear; her mother had it made for me and another friend after the funeral. I toast her birthday and think about her on the January anniversary of her death. It seems to always snow that day, like it did in 1989. 

Looking through my pink fabric scrapbook with pictures, letters she wrote and decorated with silver stamps, I am shocked by how young we were. In one letter, she describes how nice the nurses are at the Mayo Clinic. I probably wrote back about my summer at camp sleeping in a bunk bed under a girl from N.Y. As a girl, worried about when I’d get to shave my legs for the first time, I never could have imagined my future living in Michigan with my fiancé, let alone what hers would have been.

I want to honor her at the wedding. I’ve thought about various options: wearing her picture in a locket, putting something on my bouquet, displaying a picture of us, including her in a toast, or mentioning her in a reading. 

I will honor her by focusing on living the life she influenced. I will love my fiancé, bridesmaids, family members and friends who will celebrate us, including her mother. I will love her.

She will be at the wedding, in our hearts and actions. How could she not be?

Read Full Post »