Sunday, October 19, 2003

Yesterday, I took the road which lead back to my past. A past which has long since passed.

Once upon a time, I lived in a lovely little town in Vermont. From birth to age 6. I had wonderful neighbors, great friends, and a fab little life.

My best friend was a girl named Lizzie. We were the same age. We walked to school together every single day, and after school, we would play all sorts of crazy pretend games. One day at school, in the first grade, one boy started making fun of me, so Lizzie socked him. From that time, I knew we would always be friends.

When I was 6, my father got a new job and moved out of state. This shattered my little world. We were only 3 hours away, but it felt like a whole world away. I cried and cried til my lacrimal duct was dry. Lizzie and I kept in touch for a short time, then we lost each other. Only for a bit.

When I was 9, with thoughts of Vermont far from my mind, I received a letter from Lizzie. She had a new address within Vermont. I opened the letter, trembling with excitement that my best friend wrote to me. I wondered what was going on in her world. Did she get a new Cabbage Patch kid like I had? Did she get a Chinese Jump Rope?

Instead what I read, was something I couldnt comprehend as a 9 year old. Lizzie wrote to tell me that her Mother died. It didnt make sense. In my world, everyone has a mother and father, and there was a sequence in life of how things were supposed to happen. Her mother died? The same woman who would draw with us, and play Memory with us? It just wasnt possible.

It was Lizzie's reality. We wrote and wrote letters. She would ask me if she could mail herself and her sisters to my house, because she hated life without her mother. To keep the very long story short, we wrote about so many different things. My parents drove me up to her grandmothers house one day when I was 10 to see her and her 2 sisters. We went out for lunch. My parents bought them shirts, markers and sketch paper, since they had a love for art. I came home, and we resumed writing. We lost touch by age 11. Roughly.

When I was 15 I received a random letter from her and her sister with an update. Just like when I was 9, I was so excited, and I ripped the letter open, read the contents, and replied immediately. Only this time I didnt get a reply. My reply came 11 years later.

I was in India, at the internet cafe, checking my mail, and I see an email from Lizzie. I was shocked. She gave a short introduction to make sure I knew who she was and to make sure I was who she thought I was. I was so happy to hear from her. Again. I wrote back a 10K email about everything that had been going on in 11 years.

This time she replied immediately as well. Her email nearly broke my heart. I read about all the things she endured after her mother died. Her dad was a Vietnam Vet, with and undiagnosed Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the war, and he could never control himself or his temper. Her aunt had thrown them out of their house. They lived in a one room apartment. She couldnt afford new clothes, so she had to sew her own. She told me the best day of her young childhood was the day we had come to visit. People in high school made fun of her all the time. Thankfully by college, things got better, but she will always be scarred.

So fast forward to yesterday. Yesterday was her bridal shower. I drove up with her sister who lives near me, to our old home. It was such a fun ride, and a lovely shower. The fall foliage was beautiful. It was great to see her finally happy. I met her friends from high school and college. Lizzie and myself are different as different can be. We are like fruit and Parker Pens. No similarites. But we are bonded forever.

After the shower I drove to my old neighborhood and saw my neighbors. My house wasnt as big as I remembered it. My yard wasnt as lush as I remembered it. It was a patch of grass to be honest. The visit to my neighbors house was wonderful. I really felt like I returned home again. To the way life should be. The Mrs. was ready to make chocolate chip cookies for me, because I loved them as a kid. I still do. The Mr.and Mrs. remembered little things about me and my family that we didnt even remember. They also remembered things that still hold true today. These are people we dont see every year. I didnt want to leave.

Eventually I did. I drove home with Lizzie's sister, since we live near each other. She told me all she wants is for her father to be happy. To find love again. Its been 18 years since their mother died, and he's never dated anyone else. He still puts flowers on her grave on her birthday, their anniversary, and Valentines Day.

Someone once asked him, "Why dont you try and date? Find someone to share your life with. You cant live all alone like this."

His response, "Some people in life can never be replaced."

That one statment summed up how I felt during the drive home yesterday.

Then Lizzie's sister and I shed a few tears for times and people in our lives which can never be replaced.

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