Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Lessons Learned

I got a letter last week.

A real bonafide letter from an actual person. No shit. It actually happened. My mailbox wilted temporarily with the shock. (visualize that)

It was from a very old friend of mine....whom I'll call Worker Bee. Someone I had met in Jr High (middle school to most of you out there) and continued to keep in contact with even after I had moved away to start high school in another town. We stayed in touch for years, but eventually lost touch after the birth my daughter 9 years ago, while she was pregnant.

I was shocked to hear from her. I was so happy! Immediately, thoughts of our old chummy school days passes through my mind. Thoughts of the bad joke wars we used to have made my cheeks plump with grinning. I felt the old fellowship all over again - all before I read more than 3 words in her letter. I wanted to know everything immediately, and I mean EVERYTHING - RIGHT NOW.

She told me that my cousin had died.

My cousin and I had the same name (with the exception of our last names) and I had looked her up a couple of years ago. Nicole, Worker Bee and I were all friends in school along with the usual gaggle of people with intermingled with, but to me, those two were my world.

Nicole even lived down the street from me and we had spent many hot, hazy, summer days playing outside and doing a lot of things we shouldn't have. We talked. We danced We roller skated. We did make up. We dressed up. We strutted. We talked about boys. We went swimming in the river. We would walk for miles around our neighborhood just so we wouldn't have to be at home. She was ever confident and self assured. She is the one that taught me not to give a damn what anyone else thought of me. She was naturally beautiful. She was the girl I always wanted to be....and she was dead, and no one had called me.

Worker Bee had written to me on the day of her funeral and that's how I found out....but I didn't get her letter until a month after she had written it(I would like to thank the postman for his continued ineptitude - and my husband for forgetting to give my my mail when I came back from NM).

I was very upset...not because she had told me in her letter, but because no one had called me....and because I had put off calling her for months and months...simply because I find it hard to pick up the phone sometimes. It's true that no one had called me, but I hadn't called them either, and that didn't make me feel any better. I felt/feel exceedingly guilty - because I knew she had been sick, and I didn't call.

I went to Childhood Town and laid flowers on Nicole's grave this past weekend. I had the florist make up the flowers especially for her - pink if you please, sir - and with a little card to with them. I was struck with a delima. How was I supposed to say everything I wanted to say on that little card? Exactly what could I say on that sad scrap of paper? I struggled. The florist looked at me expectantly, waiting.

I drove down the old historic streets marked with beautiful Inns and B&B's and lovely old fashioned restaurants and eventually found the town cemetery and after getting directions to her plot from Worker Bee, I found her. She was right by a majestic old tree, in the shade, with flowers all over her grave. He birthday had been the day before and it was obvious that even in death, she was still deeply loved, especially by the 3 children she left behind...16,12,and 4.

I don't know what to say or do in times like this. I was blessedly alone. I stared at her marker and grinned. I had never realized that she had dropped her maiden name instead of her middle name when she gotten married. I had done the same thing....just one more thing to tie us together....and I gave her her flowers, and I whispered to her, and I cried and I wanted to scream and I cried and then....then....because I hate crying...and I especially hate crying in public, I pulled myself together....and I went to visit another old friend ....Worker Bee.

...and Worker Bee and I laughed and ate and I met her husband and her children and we laughed and talked and looked at old pictures and I felt the old kinship still there. The old confidences whispered still echoed and we exchanged new secrets and we told more bad jokes and I had to tear myself away to go home.

I left Childhood Town behind knowing that though one old friendship was gone, there was another there for me.

I left Childhood Town with only a few flowers and a miniature card to cover the earth that covers one of the only true friends I've ever had.

To the Lady who taught me to dance as a child, may you dance among the clouds.

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19 Comments:

At Wednesday, July 11, 2007 2:03:00 PM, Blogger Elle*Bee said...

What a beautiful post. I'm sorry for your loss (but happy that you reconnected with your friend).

 
At Wednesday, July 11, 2007 4:49:00 PM, Blogger Paul Champagne said...

So ... what did you put on that little card? How can something so small hold the words to describe what you feel? Or am I being dense and was it the "To the Lady Who Taught Me To Dance" line ... if it was ... just beautiful.

 
At Wednesday, July 11, 2007 5:37:00 PM, Anonymous nikki said...

That was simply beautiful. I am sorry for your loss.

 
At Wednesday, July 11, 2007 8:09:00 PM, Blogger carmachu said...

What a wonderful post....and glad it was a good experience.....


But why would your family actually not call to tell you she passed?

Sorry for your loss dear....

 
At Wednesday, July 11, 2007 8:24:00 PM, Blogger mamatulip said...

I'm really, really touched by this post. It's a really beautiful tribute to someone who obviously meant a great deal to you. I'm sorry for your loss, friend.

And I'm glad you're back.

 
At Wednesday, July 11, 2007 10:50:00 PM, Blogger Nikki said...

Elle - Hey Lady. It's good to see you...and thanks.

Paul - Um...It was the "To the Lady who taught me to dance" line. I'm sorry. I'm snickering at you...but thanks for the smile.

Nikki - Thanks chick...I just want to know what you're going to do about your fashion statement and the hospital gown.

Carm - I was never close with anyone else in her family...and she was like my 6th or 7th cousin or something like that...so our families weren't exactly close. I did speak with her Step Mother, and she did tell me that she had wanted to call, but didn't have any of my info and didn't know where Nicole kept hers...so there you have it.

 
At Thursday, July 12, 2007 12:36:00 AM, Anonymous jennyjinx said...

Wow, that was an awesome post. I've got goose pimples. I'm sorry for your loss. And I'm glad you were able to say good-bye.

 
At Thursday, July 12, 2007 9:27:00 AM, Blogger Pendullum said...

So very sorry for your loss...
and what the family, her children would find reassuring, when you have strength, is for you to let them know about their Momma and how she taught you to dance... and do it in the true Nikki style... Make it a truly wonderful written tribute which they can hold in their hearts... it will not bring her back... but it will certainly help them to think of her dancing among the clouds...

 
At Thursday, July 12, 2007 9:50:00 AM, Blogger Deb said...

So very sorry for the loss, but this is truly a beautiful post. So beautiful and heart warming. Thank you fo rreminding me to reach out to those old friends.

 
At Thursday, July 12, 2007 10:13:00 AM, Blogger Nikki said...

MTulip - Hey woman...and yeah, she was great. She never made any excuses for who she was...and she always accepted you for who you were. She was exceptional.

Jenny - thanks

Pend - what a fabulous idea. Thank you.

Deb - definately reach out chick....but not with a fist. LOL

 
At Thursday, July 12, 2007 2:35:00 PM, Blogger Christina_the_wench said...

Why the hell did you make me cry on my first day back from vaca?

*sniff*

Bitch.

 
At Thursday, July 12, 2007 3:20:00 PM, Blogger Mel said...

(((Nikki)))
Beautifully written.

 
At Thursday, July 12, 2007 9:08:00 PM, Blogger Me said...

I am so sorry. You wrote so movingly about her.
Hugs!

 
At Thursday, July 12, 2007 9:18:00 PM, Blogger carmachu said...

Ahhh, that explains it. Thanks.

 
At Friday, July 13, 2007 7:14:00 PM, Anonymous a said...

So sorry to hear of your loss. I hope you're doing better now.

 
At Friday, July 13, 2007 7:15:00 PM, Anonymous Annie Drogynous said...

BTW, "a" was me. Freakin' Blogger.

 
At Saturday, July 14, 2007 9:51:00 AM, Blogger Sayre said...

Oh, Nikki - I haven't been by in a while and didn't know. As you know, I've been caught up in one of these myself.

We learned something from all of this. Get phone numbers. Get addresses. If it hadn't been for blogworld, we might not have found out in time. How odd that blogworld brought us all together...

My condolences, Nikki. You know they are heartfelt!

 
At Saturday, July 14, 2007 1:15:00 PM, Blogger kim said...

wow nikki ...that was really beautiful ..and im soooo sorry!

 
At Friday, July 27, 2007 1:49:00 PM, Blogger Stinkypaw said...

Sorry for your loss

 

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