I usually try & keep this a happy blog, but sometimes one of your oldest friends up and dies, and silly seems out of place. I want to call this friend by a fake name because she considered the internet dangerous territory for many, many years. But I don't think I can, so I'll compromise by not posting a picture.
I first met Christine around 1990. I had inherited my cousin's job at the First Interstate Bank when said cousin returned to college. "Does she like beer?" Chris asked my cousin. My cousin turned to me, and I nodded enthusiastically. "I'll take GOOD care of her!" Chris assured us both.
And that she did. Disinclined to return to the world of waitressing, I soaked in Chris's every instruction, such as the fact that staples should be placed neatly and horizontally on the page, not diagonally (Or worse! Willy nilly!) in the corners.
I got a new job and Chris got a new job. Chris got married and I got married. And I got pregnant and Chris got pregnant. This was around 1995, before the days of internet, so we had to resort to faxing each other our ultrasound pictures.
One day I brought my baby in from a walk and heard the phone ringing. I knew something was wrong. And then I heard Chris's husband's voice and knew for certain something was so very wrong. The words, "We lost Julie Anne" didn't make any sense. It couldn't be.
I rushed to Chris's house, wondering even as I drove, "If SIDS got her baby, did that mean it's going to get my baby too?" My head knew SIDS didn't operate that way but my heart knew nothing, not how to help. Not what to do, not what to say.
A friend of my mother's who had also lost a child to crib death perhaps saved our friendship by advising me to concentrate my futile efforts on remembering Julie Anne. There was barely an internet back then and certainly no facebook, so I dialed the phone. But answering the phone would be too hard for Chris for many more years.
"You called her every year for ten years, knowing she wouldn't pick up?" The-Guy asked me last night. "Actually, it was twice a year for ten years, on Julie Anne's birth date and on the anniversary of her death." I answered him.
I may not know how to help a friend in need, but I know how to persevere.
Chris let me know on easier days that she did appreciate the calls. And it made no difference that she didn't pick up, because it took me just as many years to figure out what to say.
By year 11 she began to answer the phone and still, what did I have to offer? That I was thinking of her, that I knew the day must be hard, most of all that I remembered Julie Anne.
In typical Christine fashion, she held true on her promise to take good care of me right up until the last time I saw her at The-Guy and my wedding in 2010. Chris let The-Guy know in no uncertain terms that she had no problem using her gun should he turn out to be anything less than faithful. She assured him that her police officer husband would also use his gun to help protect me. Not every guy is so lucky to find out that "cheating" = "actual death" right on his wedding day.
Two weeks from today, baby Julie Anne would have been 17 years old. And I remember, even though Chris isn't here to remember her to.
So that's my not silly post for the day. Chris, this life was much too short for you or perhaps it felt too long. It could even have been both at the same time. But any way you look at it, you were a great friend.