Well it is because it is my oldest and one of my dearest friend’s birthday. She is turning 36. We did the quick math this morning and we have officially been friends for 28 years. I remember dates horribly, but I always remember hers. I woke up and texted her right away. “Happy Birthday to my oldest and most faithful friend.” I chuckled because I called her old. If you run in my social circle you get this because I am the baby of every social circle I am in (minus my TA cohort…there I am old). She is literally months older than me but it all counts when you are the baby.
When I was eight I saw this girl moving in next door. I found out she was just a grade above me but age wise we were the same age. We were friends pretty quick. The funny thing is our social circles were pretty different. Our interests usually pretty different. But we always stuck together. We would go our separate ways and do our separate things and then reconvene together. We spent every summer together even when I moved two hours away she came to visit a lot or I came home to visit. She went on family vacations with us and I went on a few trips with her.
Sadly at 16 (I think) her mother passed away from cancer. I was right by her side the whole time even though at this point I lived in a different school district almost a half an hour away. My parents let me take a week off of school to go to her mom’s funeral and just be her friend. But the time leading up to her death I was there for that. I remember talking on the phone to her about her mom losing her hair. I remember her pretending like her Mom really wasn’t gonna die despite everyone else around us knowing it was inevitable. Most of all I remember how peaceful but certainly sad she was when her mom was gone. Her mom’s funeral was the first I had been too.
Her dad worked out of state most of the time I knew her and then toward the last few years her mom was sick. She became a surrogate part of my family. My mom, dad, sisters and step mom always just accepted her in. If that meant dinner, a movie, a family game or even just to have a place to land where she wasn’t the adult in her tiny world. Yes at 17 her brother and her were forced to be the adult, pay the bills, and work full time around school. My family all loved her just as much as I did. She even met her husband through my sisters ex-husband at their wedding.
She married him August 4th (I think?…see I suck at dates). They had a son and made a good life for themselves. She was pregnant with # 2. I remember her calling me asking if I thought how she felt was right. She was just feeling off. I remember it being a quick conversation and not feeling overly worried, but I should have been because a few days later I had to sit in a funeral behind one of my best friends and watch as she grieved for this tiny life that was born still. I remember crying to my mom that day about, “How life could be so cruel to one person.” My mom offered the best comfort she could but truthfully how do you look at a casket for a 19 week old baby and find any real answers that mean anything.
I lived two hours away at the time, but I spent countless hours on the telephone with her as she came to grips with such a devastating loss and what it did to her family. It really changed things forever in ways that few people could ever understand. I am not sure I even do but I got to witness it first hand. She was the strong one for all of us. She found a peaceful sadness to grieve. You ask why I tell you this? Well it happened on her birthday.
Little did I know or she know that 4 months later I would be dealing with my own pregnancy loss and in my own grief she told me that one of the hardest things is not talking about him. I don’t remember how she worded it or vocalized that but it stuck with me. She wanted to acknowledge his existence and it was so hard because no one wants to talk about a dead baby. So every birthday I start off with my happy birthday wishes. Today was no different. I then followed it with, “Happy Birthday to Gage. I will never forget.” And in 8 years I have never forgotten and I am guessing for the next 58 I won’t either.
Our lives are so different now and sometimes we go months without much more than a quick hello on FB between our kiddos or text. But we always can pick back up and thanks to the technology of texting our hellos are much more frequent and when she is sitting at a hockey practice she gives me a jingle or as I make the long jaunt home. It has literally been years since I have seen her. But I will always share our memories. And please don’t laugh too hard at our pictures. The first is prom from 1993 (I was a size freaking 3) and the second is my senior picture taken in 1994 (still rocking a 3). Oh well…evidence of a life well lived right?