This morning was like most other Saturdays, I slept in, had breakfast and then decided what needed to be accomplished (or attempted) today. When checking Facebook earlier this afternoon I saw the “you have memories” notification, so I clicked on it, as I often do. A couple of the “memories” stopped me dead in my tracks and the tears easily followed. You see, eight years ago today (Oct. 29) my best friend lost her battle with cancer.
Cindy and I met when we were in junior high at church camp in Southern Illinois. Our hometowns were a little more than an hour apart, and since we couldn’t drive, we became pen pals to keep in touch. (Side note: before there were cell phones or computers to keep in touch people would use paper and writing instruments and send them in the mail). In high school, once we had those coveted drivers licenses we would drive to visit one another or attend concerts together. Our junior year in college Cindy transferred to Milligan College where I had started the year before (freshman year was completed at a local junior college and I began at Milligan my sophomore year). We had our ups and downs, as many roommates do, but our friendship remained and, I believe, grew stronger.
The memories I have our college days include the day I thought Cindy was trying to burn down the dorm…or at least our room. She didn’t realize how much time she had set the microwave when warming her pop tart, so instead of a several seconds, she set it to the torch it setting and the breakfast pastry began to smoke. Our room, and much of the hall, smelled like burned strawberry pop tart for a few days. We also liked to play practical jokes on our suitemates. We TP’d their room while they slept one night, but my personal favorite is the time we used a rope to tie to their door handle to the door across the hall (she was in on it) and locked our bathroom door – this meant they had no way out. 😉 We let them out…eventually. Milligan is in eastern Tennessee and is not far from the small town of Elizabethon which, at the time anyway (not sure if it’s still there) had a drive-in. (Side note: a drive in is when you drive your vehicle to an outdoor movie theater, park, and have a speaker that fits on your vehicle window). The school was having a movie nite at the drive-in, so Cindy, our suitemates and I decided to go. This drive-in charged per person, not per car, so we wondered if we could get away with putting someone in the trunk of Cindy’s car. Great idea, we thought…Cindy drove a Nissan Pulsar and had a small trunk. How do I know the trunk is small? You guessed it, I’m the one who took the bet to ride in the trunk and face possibly getting caught and us getting kicked out of the drive-in. We waited until we were about half a mile from the drive-in, we pulled over and I hopped in the trunk. Riding in the trunk makes for a bumpy ride – but we had so much fun – I still don’t know how we didn’t get caught given how much we were all laughing inside that car. Then there was the time Cindy tried to teach me and Tina (one of our suitemates) how to drive a stick shift (the Pulsar was a stick). I did pretty well on flat surfaces, but not so great when stopping on hills. Tina, well, she didn’t do so well at getting it out of park LOL!
We were in each others weddings, we got together every Christmas after graduation, called one another on birthdays, and sometimes called “just because.” When she told me she had cancer, I was in disbelief. She was too young. She had just given birth to her son and her daughter was only four. She still lived in Southern Illinois and I was (and still am) living in south Georgia. As much as I wanted to be by her side during her treatments and anything she needed, I couldn’t. So I called as often as I could and I prayed, I prayed more than I ever had before. We were able to spend one more Christmas together, and I was able to see her one last time a few months before she went home with Jesus.
There are times out of the blue I will start missing her. One day I started crying in Walmart of all places over the cheeses in my cart. You see at Milligan (when we were students) there were two options for dinner and one always contained cheese, and if that wasn’t enough cheese for you, there was a block of cheese from which you could take a chunk. After graduation we would often joke that we were cheese connoisseurs and how many different cheeses we currently had in our fridges. So, that day I had a variety of cheeses and it made me think of her and how I couldn’t call her to joke about it. There are so many other things I miss about her and they hit me at different times, but today I thought I needed to write about her, to let others know what a truly wonderful person she was.
I will never forget how much she could make me laugh, and how much I treasured our friendship. Today my tears are of frustration and anger because her kids didn’t get the opportunity to know and love her, and because I miss her so much. Cancer sucks. It sucks so hard and has taken too many good people from me. I know she’s in heaven and knowing her she’s asking all the questions of life we wish we could ask. I also think she’s looking down on her kids and husband watching out for them. She’s our guardian angel, but I still wish she were here with us.