History Lessons

Every year about this time I start thinking about my best friend from Junior High and early Highschool. It’s her birthday today. We’ve long since lost track of each other, but she shares a birthday with my aunt, so when my aunt’s birthday reminder pops up on facebook I get to wondering what happened to C.

Back in the day we did everything together. We played volleyball, basketball, softball together. We went to church together. We tried our first cigarettes together. We had slumber parties, movie parties, swimming parties together. We went on church youth trips together. Either I was at her house or she was at my house. Or we were somewhere else together. In those days, we KNEW we would always be best friends.

Then my dad dragged my ass kicking and screaming away from San Diego to an oh, so backwards itty bitty town in Missouri. We kept in touch for a little while, but then …. didn’t. The last time I saw her I was four months pregnant with Ann, my first. We had gone to San Diego to make arrangements for some of Dad’s business dealings that he hadn’t quite wrapped up since we moved. We stopped by one of Dad’s favorite BBQ places, and my friend happened to be working there at the time. She was six months pregnant with her first child – a boy, if I remember correctly. We immediately hugged and hugged and tried to catch up on the previous four years in as short a time as possible.

That was the last time I saw her. But not the last time I thought about her.

With the advent of facebook I have done searches for her pretty much on an annual basis. I’ve never assumed that she was still married to the guy she was married to all those years ago because I’m not, but I’ve still searched by that name because it is the only one I knew.

Today was different. I did my annual facebook search for her, which came up empty. So I went to google and put in a search for her whole name (using her old married name). It produced results. An obituary. Not hers. But an obituary that said “Survived by his mother, C….” My heart stopped and I drew in a quick breath. She lost a child! Surely this was a different C and not mine, so I kept reading. “Also survived by grandparents….” And they named her parents.

I just stared at my computer reading and re-reading the obituary of a seven year old boy, trying to comprehend that kind of loss. He had a different last name than what she had the last time I saw her (more than 30 years ago), so I knew that she had been remarried. All her children were listed (and what I’m assuming are step children).

I learned more today than I ever have before in my searches and it’s left me feeling a bit empty. A weird sense of sorrow for her loss. A curiosity of how she came to lose a son. A desire to know the path her life took that put her where she is today. I want to know her history. It was easier when all I knew about a long lost friend is that she didn’t have facebook. Now I know that my long lost friend lost a child years ago and he would have been twenty this year. I can’t even wrap my brain around it.

Strange day.

ETA: After finding out her different married name, I did a search for that and found another obituary….her late husband. Strange to learn that my life has been very easy. I have not lost a child and a spouse. Damn!

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