When I got on the kindergarten school bus for the first time I noticed a girl with beautiful blonde hair brighter than the sun and a smile that lit up. I was too shy to say anything and completely nervous about starting school. Meeting new kids. I never went to pre-school and only had two friends on my street, which were boys. On my second day this little girl invited me to sit with her on the bus. We weren’t in the same kindergarten class, but she became my best friend for years and years.
We were in the same class together from first grade to fourth. Best friends. We were an odd match. I was the smallest girl in the class and she towered over everyone. She was my protector. When John Green started calling me “shrimp” she took care of it. When I lost my brand new L.A. Gear shoe in the muddy sink-hole in my friend’s backyard she carried me back to the house and then went and retrieved the shoe. When I was nervous at sleepovers she held my hand. She taught me to be brave.
We had excellent adventures. We would catch frogs down at the pond. Dig 4-foot deep holes in the garden in hopes of reaching China so we could play with panda bears. We made May baskets, making Ding-Dong-Ditch acceptable. Girl Scouts, soccer, after-school programs…we did it all together. She was the closest thing to a sister I ever had.
As we got older and went to high school we weren’t as close as we used to be, but we always knew we would be there for each other when we needed to be. She was beautiful and brilliant. Straight A student, excellent college scholarship, a wonderful loving family. It was picture perfect. Who knew she was severely troubled and was battling alcohol and depression. She left this world thirteen years ago tomorrow at the age of 20. My first reaction was anger…which then led to heartache. I drove home from college after hearing the news. Staring out the blurry windshield. When I go home I starting digging through my box of childhood memories. She was everywhere. From silly faces drawn on my notebooks, to stuffed animals with wedding rings on their tails. Projects we did together in Girl Scouts. I miss her terribly. When I close my eyes I see that long blonde hair.
The holidays are tough for those dealing with depression and for those who have lost their loved ones. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has excellent resources for those who are coping with loss and for those who need more strength.