Each person has a ‘first’ friend. Those childhood friends who are neighbors or children of family friends, but there is a connection to somehow make you friends.
My first friend lived close by. I would go out our back door, walk by the neighbor behind us, cross an alley, and end up at the bottom of the steps of her house. We didn’t knock on the door and ask politely if they could come out to play. No, I stood at the bottom of the steps and hollered, “Hey Peggy!” Several times, if necessary, until she either came out or her Mom or older siblings came out to let me know she couldn’t play. She would yell at my door also, “Hey Cathi!”. It was a crude way to begin play, but it worked.
Peggy and I loved being together. We played on her swing set (it is where I learned to flip myself over the bars), or we would catch butterflies or bees in jars, or we would roam the neighborhood, making certain we ran past that scary house on the corner because we just knew a wicked witch lived inside. It was heaven.
My family moved in August before my first grade year. Peggy was no longer in walking distance and the shouting from each other stopped. We went to the same elementary school, but, her last name began with a “C” and mine with an “M”, so we weren’t always in the same classroom. We played on the same basketball team and she came to my birthday parties, but, it wasn’t the same. We went to different high schools and lost track of one another.
Years later, when we both had two daughters who were mostly grown, we met up at our husband’s class reunion. Hubby and I had gone with our forever friends and everyone found someone to talk with. Everyone, but me. My friend, noticing me standing alone not talking with anyone, came over and pointed out that Peggy was also standing alone, talking to no one. I went over. Instantly, it was like we were once more roaming the neighborhood talking and sharing with one another. It was the best! We took some pictures together and a piece of my heart was put back in place.
Thankful for Facebook, we messaged each other, sharing our lives and pictures of our girls, and grandchildren. She talked about her daughters and how proud she was of them. I got to know them through our talks. I heard about her grandchildren and smiled and laughed with her as she shared her stories about them. We always said that everything we learned about friends happened in kindergarten and somehow we knew our hearts were joined in friendship there.
Two years ago I realized that I hadn’t heard from Peggy in a few weeks. I wrote her and let her know she was on my mind. I asked her how she was. Her answer was like a punch in the stomach for me. She told me she had ovarian cancer. I swallowed hard and tried to write something positive to her and I closed out Facebook and sobbed. Her news hit me hard. She told me her dates of chemo and I put each one on my calendar in my phone, so I would remember and know to pray for her. I knew I couldn’t be with her, but, I felt that if I could pray for her during those times, I would be doing something at least.
In July of 2016 she wrote that she was cancer free! I rejoiced! I was so very happy and thrilled. She even talked about possibly coming to visit, asking which airport was closest to me. I started to imagine sitting on my screen porch visiting with her, watching the lightning bugs flicker in the night sky and us laughing together, sharing stories of daughters and grandchildren. They were happy thoughts for me.
Four months later she wrote to tell me her cancer was back. She would undergo more chemo and testing until she couldn’t anymore. In between, her youngest got married and she was able to be there with them and celebrate. The pictures were lovely and I was so happy for her.
The past few months have been a time of travel to hospitals only to receive news that was not good. She passed away this past Sunday. Her daughter called to tell me. When I saw her daughter’s name on my phone, my heart sank. I knew it was not going to be a good call.
I heard this beautiful voice on the other end of my phone. I heard the tears. My heart broke. Peggy was such a dear person. She saw the best in me and made me laugh. We had been friends most of our lives and I knew there would be a void in my life when she went. But, my void would be nothing like what her family now has. Their Mom, his wife, was gone. I know that words cannot heal that hurt. Words cannot fill the spaces that used to be filled with her laughter. Words cannot replace the ‘looks’ that only a Mom, Wife and Grandmother can give.
But, for me, I had to write about her. She will be remembered. People will get a glimpse of this person. This person who used to holler for me. This person who once challenged me to pick up a snake(I couldn’t) or catch a bee in my bare hand(I did). The one who had the mumps and I got to play with her daily in hopes that I would catch the mumps and get it over with. I never caught the mumps….
So, good-bye dear friend. I miss you already. I will miss our late night chats on Facebook. I will miss hearing about your news and your family. I know you are now pain-free. You are able to be as free as we were as children. Rest well, you have fought the brave fight and you taught me how to live.
Thanks for stopping by. Cathi (DAF)