Friday, April 28, 2006


The high school that I attended was in a VERY small town (population 49) high in the Eastern Sierra mountains of California. Our school consisted of a gym, an office and nine classrooms, all stuck together in one giant building. It housed grades 9-12 and boasted a grand total of 100 students--of which 12 of those made up my class. We were all friends, even with the teachers and high school was marvelous.

I am one of those people that doesn't make many friends, but the ones I do have, I consider friends for life. All through high school I was best friends with two other girls.

Here's what one of them wrote in my senior year school yearbook:

"Being your friend this year was one of the main things I will remember about all my years of high school. My senior year was great, especially all the things we did together--only we didn't pull the fire alarms or plug the toilets like we had planned. Tell me your address when and if you move--write me or come back to visit and play some tennis, and if you get lucky you might win me (but don't count on it). Maybe we were such good friends because we're almost the same height! Well whatever the reason, we were the greatest of friends and probably will always be. The hardest thing about meeting new people and making new friends is saying goodbye. So let's not say goodbye, but so long for now and see you soon. Though we may be apart physically we will never be apart mentally. Never become a stranger or just two ships that pass in the night. Too bad we only knew each other for a couple of short years because they were the greatest, and longer would have been even greater. This time at school went by so fast and far TOO fast. I wish I could do it again just for the fun of it all, and I would have done everything with you the same only I would have enjoyed it all the more. Like the old saying you don't appreciate what you have until it's gone and this is so very true about our friendship."

Love you always,
Marcia '78

Marcia died yesterday.

She was only 45 years old and had, unbeknownst to me, been suffering for years from Rheumatoid Arthritis. I was talking with my mom, who still lives in that wonderful small town, on the phone tonight when she suddenly said she'd have to call me back, someone had come to her house to talk about getting a cemetary plot (mom is in charge of the local cemetary arrangements). When she called me back 15 minutes later, it was with the shocking news of who the plot was for--one of my best friends on Earth. I had no idea that anything at all had been wrong with Marcia, nor had my mom.

Marcia was a tiny little Paiute Indian girl and we did often joke about both of us being so damned short, especially since the other friend in our trio, D., was very tall. We called her 'Marsh' for short, which inexorably became 'Swamp'. Marcia was Salutatorian in our senior year, and besides being frighteningly smart as a whip, was pretty, truly kind and universally sweet to everyone. Everyone loved her. We all thought she would go on to college and do something easy (for her) like find a cure for cancer or establish world peace, she was one of those people that you just know are destined to make an earth-shattering difference in this world. Instead she chose to remain in the valley with her family, got married and quietly and happily raised a family of 5. I had moved to Southern California, but whenever I went up to visit my mother I would get in touch with Marcia to try to arrange for a visit. She always kind of shied away, being too busy or whatnot. Now I feel bad, like it should have tipped me off...?

So I spent this evening going through old yearbooks, pausing to point out pictures of my friends and family to my six year old daughter. Mostly she laughed and said, "What a funny picture!" With some of them I had to agree. While I was leafing through the yearbook, a program for the big multi-year reunion fell out of it. As I opened it I remembered that both myself and my other high school buddy had tried very hard to get Marcia to go to the reunion, which was held just a couple of miles (at the most) from her home...but she refused.

I also read the names of the people that had passed on that were listed in the program, and realized that now not only was Marcia gone, but also her brother, her sister and a cousin. I knew them all as sophomores and freshman in my senior year.

The next time I travel to that small Eastern Sierra town and stop by the cemetary that holds my father, I will also pay my respects to my departed friends.

This is the first really close friend I have lost, and I'm finding it a very disjointing, jarring and heartbreaking experience. What I want to do most right now is jump in the car, stop by Bakersfield just long enough to collect D., my other high school best friend, and drive up to my old small town. What I could do, how I could help...? I don't know.

I just know I want my friend back. I feel cheated.

Marcia said it best:
"I wish I could do it again just for the fun of it all, and I would have done everything with you the same only I would have enjoyed it all the more. Like the old saying you don't appreciate what you have until it's gone and this is so very true about our friendship."

Hug your friends, tell them you appreciate them and savor the good times now.

Marcia, my friend, I love you.


  1. From my brother:

    I'm glad that I got to see her last year during the Fourth of July trek. She still had that same smile.

    She wrote the longest thing ever in my yearbook, including the sign-off line "All Indian, and proud of it!"

    I'm sorry that she's gone.

    1. I didn't know you had gotten to see her! How wonderful. :) The passage I quoted above took up one entire page of my yearbook. *L* She had done the same in all the previous years, too.

      Do you remember the pic you took for the yearbook of her brother, Antone? The one where you had him lay under the back wheel of Mrs. Chichester's car, next to the wheel? I was pointing that one out to J. last night and we were laughing about how Antone had bent the wrong leg (he was supposed to look as if the car had run over his leg) plus he was grinning. Weird thing is, Antone died in a car accident...

    2. From my brother:
      She wrote two pages in my senior yearbook. Including her phone number. And she called me a creep for not taking her to the Junior-Senior Banquet, and she asked me to send her a photo so that she could throw darts at it.

      She liked me, didn't she?

      I was an idiot in High School.

    3. Umm....yes, you were. I didn't know all that, or I would have nudged you to respond to it, ya dunce. *L* I think all us high school girls should have been issued a 2 x 4 to wallop the clueless guys across the head with...*L*

      Ah, the days of high school crushes!


  2. From my sister:
    The great things about friends is that they pick you or you pick each other or however that works. It's love that is by choice not circumstance, like family*. It is both an honor and a responsiblity to be chosen as a friend. I'm glad that you were able to have that with Marcia. I'm sorry that you lost her so very young.

    *Not that there's anything wrong with family - It's just different.