At this moment in a Catholic church in central Wisconsin, a family is holding a funeral for my best friend from first grade. To honor her memory, I’m devoting this week’s blog to her.
I remember Karen as a shy girl. She was quiet but friendly and kind. I remember the house she lived in before she moved away, and I remember playing with her every recess, as we pretended to be cats.
By second grade, she was gone. I had the address of where she moved to, but we never visited each other. We did, however, write each other letters. Her letters are still saved in a box somewhere in my parents’ house, along with class photos that she would send me each year. We wrote about what activities we were in and what classes we took, what our friends were like, and about the different adventures we got into. Having a friend who lived far away allowed me to open up to her and tell her things I had never told anyone else, such as the fact that I was still in love with a boyfriend who had broken up with me years ago. She was a safe outlet to vent to and I never had to worry that anyone would learn my secrets. I believe she found the same thing in me.
After we graduated high school, I went on to college and became busy with a multitude of new life experiences and had a hard time keeping up with friends I used to see every day. Karen and I didn’t write at all after high school. I never got to tell her that I found out that the boy I was still in love with was still in love with me, too. Today we have been married for 17 years and have two children.
I did find her a few years ago through Facebook. But as it is with people you haven’t seen for 30 years, you can peek in on each other’s lives but it’s hard to know what to say. We were quite different people now. From what I read on Facebook, she was a single, working woman who loved to talk sports and politics, and I am a stay-at-home mom whose two least favorite subjects are sports and politics. It wasn’t until I read her obituary that I found we still had a number of similarities, such as being cat people, enjoying trivia, and the fact that we both have angel collections.
Thank you, Karen, for being my friend. You helped make my passage through childhood a little bit easier. I hope I did the same for you. I wish you peace.