I met my best friend from childhood the first week of 4th grade. She had a gold velour shirt on and that shirt was tucked into her underwear which were slightly above the top of her jeans. She denies this but I am quite confident. This was in the late 70's and not a Sir Mix A Lot song so underwear out of your pants was taboo. One day, a boy in our class yelled at her and she marched her tiny self (she still is tiny) right over to his desk and broke every single of one of his crayons. TAKE THAT. He cried like a baby for about 20 minutes and well, I knew this girl had sass and verve. We became the best of friends. That friendship created some serious shenanigans and adventures. Including the time we decided to make chocolate chip cookie dough and then hide the entire mixing bowl in my room so we could eat it raw. Bowl of raw cookie dough + no refrigeration + two little girls weighing in about 45 pounds each = well, you know that story doesn't yield a pleasant ending. PS: Sorry Mom, because you had to be on medic/clean up duty.
We were at Kelly's grandpa's house one day and decided "Let's have fun!" How? Well, we can jump off the roof of the garage onto a mattress! This is brilliant! Her Mom drove up the driveway and jumped out of the car before she even put it in park. She wasn't delighted by our daredevil-ish ways, I assure you. A question was shouted at us 'What in the HELL are you doing?!?! followed by GET DOWN IMMEDIATELY. Once down from the roof, we went down to the river and decide to have mud fight. For hours. We were covered scalp to toes and her Mom made us stand outside and get sprayed down with a giant garden house. We should have opted to stay on the roof!
matching sleeping bags (super cool gynmastics themed)
matching overalls (Osh Kosh B'Gosh!)
matching roller skates and skate covers (Uber fierce!)
matching parachute pants (Super FLY)
matching haircuts in 4th-6th grade (Super UGLY. It looked like Madge from Golden Girls sheared us and not like cute pixie style like Olympic skaters but rather like boys. Or prisoners.)
We once opted to have a water fight at her house. We filled tiny Dixie cups with water and placed them throughout the yard. It is easy to go through those quickly and one of us grabbed the hose and the other ran in the house. Well, dummy in the house DO NOT open the kitchen windows and sass out statements like "HAHAHA. I am in the house!" because the hose can SPRAY into the house. Which is what happened. Many times. It was not a good story to explain but it was awesome at the time. Did we ultimately rot the kitchen floor? Perhaps. I know we did a terrible job of clean up.
One day her Mom bought us Hostess Tiger Tails. Remember these? Basically, a Twinkie but w/ the added ingredients of jelly and coconut. I have never liked the dreaded coconut. Kelly loves coconut and did not want to share this with me. She knew my disdain and explained to me, I could not have the Tiger Tail because it was covered in coconut. "I will pick it off," I say. She replies, "You can't. There won't be anything left." But she gives it to me and after spending about 30 minutes picking it off, she is only getting more and more irritated with me. At minute 32, I give up as the Tiger Tail has been demolished in my coconut removal process. I simply say, "I don't actually want it now." She picks up the mounds of coconut and what happens next? She throws the entire pile in my face. I deserved it. Tiger Tails? Shudder.
There were dance parties, slumber parties, skating parties. We got older and added our 3rd lifelong best friend, Taz, to the mix. We saw each other through crushes, boyfriends, breakups, moving, fights with parents, car wrecks, cheerleading practice, lip syncing to Push It and hot tub parties w/ boys at my Dad's house when he was out of town. We drank wine coolers, bad beer and one time only: Tequila. We tried smoking, Lee Press On nails, Sun In. Even when separated by college and hundreds of miles, we were best friends, bridesmaids, present for the birth of babies. We have laughed in that really great, from the soul kind of way on countless days and nights.
And today we cry. Kelly's Mom died unexpectedly yesterday. She was found at her home with her suitcase packed to fly to Kelly's house this morning. I have known both of these women since age 9. The news gave me that crinkly numbing feeling. Kelly lost her Dad years ago and spent yesterday afternoon twisting and turning on how to tell her own children the news.
I thought about those many laughter provoking moments throughout my entire childhood and that recall, in the context of death, makes your sadness widen out and push on you. There is no 'sorry' big enough to cover the gap this death has left. As she told me herself yesterday, "It is my mom." I know exactly what she means. After I spoke to her, I immediately called my own Mom. Kelly spent so many nights at our house, of course my Mom called her immediately. And because my own Mom is so good, she offered all that love and support that maybe only parents know how to give when kids are hurting. And aren't we still kids? It wasn't too long ago we were roller skating through mud puddles and prank calling Scooter Peterson, right?
Being supportive and loving your friend through life-changing moments are aspects you would gladly trade if in fact, you could actually do something to alter the outcome of the situation. I want to wrap her entire day in every great caper, every laugh, every Tiger Tail so all of those minutes counterbalance all of her minutes feeling sick hearted. I can't but I definitely attempted last night via text. To which she replied, "How dare you take off those coconut flakes!" Exactly.
Kelly, you and your Mom loved each other. You both knew the depth of it and for that, I am so very glad. It does not make today easier, but one day it might. Thinking of you, my oldest friend, on what is truly your saddest day.
We love you. And because we love you I am refraining from including a pic of us in grade school with our despicable haircuts.