Where I write

Where I write

July 22, 2013

Goodbye to a Friend

When I started my first photo album in high school, I never thought that some day I would be looking through my albums for photos of friends who  died. Fast forward a few decades, and my photo albums have become a place to not just cringe at how the years have brought more wrinkles and weight, but also to remember people. When a childhood friend told me she learned on Facebook that our friend from high school, Patty, had passed away from cancer I dug out my photo albums to remember her. She was such a nice person. Really. All that good stuff we say about someone after they pass on was really true about Patty. Even as a teenager, I recognized in her kindness and sweetness. She lived in California, and I hadn't seen her since we graduated, except for Facebook photos, but when you lose a friend from your teenage years you can't help but remember them as they were.

I'm no stranger to death, but I was still so taken aback as I've not had any other close high school friends pass away.  I've moved a lot since leaving Illinois back in the late 1970s, and learned it's easier to move without lugging a bunch of stuff. Travel light is the best bet, so through the years, I've gotten rid of tons of furniture and countless household items. I've become  objective about objects. However, I could never part with my photo albums. Now they sit in my closet, (the above photo is only a small sampling of my many albums), and I think who will care about those images when I die. But when I learned about Patty's death, I was glad I had photos to remember her. Made hauling those boxes around all these years from state to state worthwhile.
The photo above is of Patty (second from left) and some other high school friends on our way to our senior breakfast. In the photo to the right, Patty is the pretty blonde gal on the far right. We were all so excited because this was one of the final events before we graduated from James B. Conant High School in Hoffman Estates Illinois. We were all dressed up in our best 1970s fashion. Patty always did wear some sharp, groovy clothing. I can remember that breakfast as if it was yesterday which is sorta scary considering I have to look at my calendar all the time now to remember where I'm suppose to be. The photos help my old memory cells.
 Back in the dark ages when I was in high school, we would exchange little photos like the one above. Here is what Patty wrote on the back:
I don't see you too much anymore, but we've had some fun times. Hope we can do it again. Stay cute. Love, Patti 1974.
When Patty died from cancer, she was a fourth grade teacher in California with a grown children and a husband she'd been married for more than three decades. Her happy Facebook photos showed a rich life of family and friends. I remember her as if she was 16 again.  She marched in a drum and bugle corps band, she had a lot of brothers and sisters, lovely blue eyes. She liked to laugh.
 When I write my fictional stories, I create characters who die, but it's easy to make up people with my imagination and then let them go. Not so easy in real life. I know there is "The End" to all of our stories, but losing people never gets easier. Never ever.
 Love you Patty! You will be missed. I'm blessed to have known you.


Rita A. said...

What a wonderful post. I've always said if the house is on fire grab the dog and the photos.

I've, sadly, lost many people I knew when younger. It never gets easier but the memories seem to get a bit fonder as we get older.

Stella said...

sorry for your loss. Her high school wish for you came true: you're still cute. I'll be her husband and kids would love to read this post. Can you share it?

gloria mellinger said...

A beautiful tribute to Patti. Very moving. Very sad to lose her. Thank you for writing this.

Anonymous said...

You've found a perfect way to remember your friend. Celebrate her life and keep her close in your memories!

tracy said...

A touching piece Susanne...

Especially after your run-in at the Good Egg, huh???

Anyway, missing out on your posts as usual, caught up with your flip flops!!! Couldn't live without 'em!

Tried signing to follow again with my google password, maybe success this third try! Love, Tracy