15 years old.
I was 15, going on 16 in 1991, as was my brilliant friend, Keri. We had talked about getting our drivers licences, we thought down the road to the careers we might chase...and the lives we dreamed of having. We visualised our apartment in Toronto with a glass block wall in the entry way, and a part of the livingroom that would be void of furniture, and only pillows.
That's who we thought we'd be.
She died. She died 20 years ago today. Her life came to an abrupt end, and the trajectory of my life was forever changed that day. The loss is not lessened due to time...the emotion and ache is merely more tolerable, but not less persistent when I permit myself to think about her...and us, and our childhood moments that should have stretched out into adulthood.
I stood at the foot of her grave today. The wild wind whipped around me and felt strangely comforting. Snow began to swirl, and I heard echoes of who we were. I closed my eyes...I felt the moment...I embraced the sadness like an old friend, and I remembered. I remembered all the things I was so scared would leave my memory.
She used to pick my nailpolish off in church. She bit her nails down to the nub, so she would occupy herself in a boring church service picking mine off. We often skipped Sunday School, or service and would hide out in unoccupied classrooms...sometimes under tables in dark rooms, just daring someone to catch us. She wore insanely baggy jeans. She wore high top Converse. She had her own phone line. The smell of baby powder still reminds me of her. We used to sneak into her brothers room when he wasn't home and read the scandalous love letters he got from his girlfriend. We swung on the rope swing in the barn. Her lovely sweet dog Sandy was a faithful companion and staple around the yard. She had a crush on a boy in a far away town...and she used to write him love letters.
Funny that. I have often wondered about him and his sister when the name of their town has entered my mind. A month ago, my sister went to a ladies retreat, and unbenounced to her, as she talked to a new friend, Keri was an unexpected connection they shared from that life those many years ago. She named her oldest daughter after her. In some small way...my dear friend lives on.
I miss her. Every year the missing is different. The older I get, the more I wonder who she would be. Sometimes I like to think about her life out there...in a far away busy city, where she is a graphic artist, or a hippy chick with a guitar, with a fabulous loft apartment, and a black cat named Jinx. I think she'd have amazing laugh lines around her mischievious eyes by now, but the glorious sound of her laughter would still be that of a 15 year old girl...
The girl I knew. The girl I know. The girl who is forever a part of me.
Miss you much, George.