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.
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:
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 died yesterday.
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.
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:
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.