I have been thinking about what I wanted to say in this post for a couple of days. Then, I read a quote on a picture this evening that I decided was the perfect way to start it out. “Friends – a rainbow between two hearts!” PERFECT! Exactly what I wanted to say – too bad I didn’t come up with it myself, but that’s OK!
The reason this topic was one I wanted to write about is that I just spent a lovely evening with a few of my old high school friends and it brought up so many emotions and memories that I just had to write about it. But, the strongest driver was some sad news I received during that evening.
Let me step back a little before I go into my main point. Last April – 2009, not this year’s April – I schemed with a couple of old friends to plan a reunion of sorts. A bunch of us had reconnected on Facebook and really wanted to see how many of us we could get together to share an evening. Several of those still in the area made it and it was so much fun! I hadn’t seen any of them in many years and it was so good to catch up with them.
We agreed it was something we should do more often because life is too short to miss out on being able to spend time with people you care about. We didn’t need anything to cement that thought, but shortly after that evening a horrible accident did just that! One of our classmates – one who was there that evening – was killed in a car accident! Then, this year, we lost two more classmates to cancer within a couple of weeks of each other.
I went home for Christmas this past week and the trip was long enough to be able to plan another get together. Since it was a holiday week and a week night (we planned to have dinner on Weds), not as many could join us, but it was still so special. Good food, great conversation, wonderful company – very relaxing and enjoyable! There were five of us for dinner (plus a hubby that added some much needed diversity), including one that wasn’t at the last get together, which made it even more special. The conversation took many different paths – one was remembering all the classmates we’ve lost, which is sadly quite a lengthy list.
So, now on to the main point I wanted to discuss. As we went over the list of classmates we’ve lost, a name came up that I hadn’t heard in these discussions before. I actually was planning to ask Margaret at some point during the evening if she had heard anything about Cathy over the years – if anyone would know, Margaret would. Before I got to that question, Margaret added Cathy to the list of classmates we have lost! I was in shock! Even more so, when the details revealed that Cathy died of a heart attack at the age of 36 – about 18 years ago! The news crushed me – I wanted to talk more with Margaret about Cathy and her life, but just couldn’t – I will at another time. So, the main point of this post is to honor Cathy and our friendship from long ago.
Cathy was not in my life for very long – not compared to most of my other school friends, most of which I knew since kindergarten right through to graduation and some beyond that – some I stayed connected with on some level ever since. But, she was an important friend – one who meant a great deal to me – one I wished I hadn’t lost touch with. Not that all my friends aren’t important and mean a lot to me, but Cathy came at an awkward time in my life when I really needed a friendship exactly like the one we had.
Up until the fifth grade, I lived in town and went to elementary and grammar schools in the Village of Albion. Then, we moved out-of-town and just across the line that separated those students who went to school in Albion and those who went to school in Waterport. I spent the fifth and sixth grades in Waterport school – still the same county and school system, but a country school with one of each grade from kindergarten through sixth grade. Then, we went to school in Albion from seventh grade on. I was a shy, quiet young girl and found myself having to make all new friends in a new school. Luckily, it was a small class and I did make a lot of really good friends that I stayed friends with into high school and beyond.
But, Cathy became my best friend – we were inseparable! There weren’t many weekends that I wasn’t at her house or she at mine and nothing got planned without considering how Cathy would fit in the plans. Some of my fondest memories were of us laying out on a blanket in my back yard making up stories about the clouds based on their shapes and what they looked like. We’d spend hours and hours talking and reading teen magazines and playing 45′s on my portable record player. Our favorite song was “Sugar, Sugar”, by The Archies. My 45 of that song had a nick in the record and it would get to that nick and “skip” — it would go “Aw, Shi…..”, instead of the full “Aw, Sugar…” - we’d let it keep skipping over and over and over and we’d laugh and laugh until our guts ached!!!! We’d dance and sing to the songs and pretend we were famous and talk about all the teen heart throbs like they were our closest friends. We wrote short stories together that documented our fantasies and they always included situations where Bobby Sherman, Davy Jones, David Cassidy, or some other teen idol were our boyfriends and we’d travel to foreign places, like Paris and Rome, with them. Sometimes the fantasies were based in London, where we were friends with and dated various members of The Beatles! Oh, how I wish I had kept those stories — they were pretty good!!! hahaha
I have a lot of pictures of Cathy, but most are packed away and not scanned. But, I do have a few scanned and available to share here:
This is Cathy at a party at my house – 1969
Cathy and me at a slumber party at my house – 1968
Cathy and me dancing at a birthday party at my house – 1969
How’s this for a friend – I’m holding Cathy’s hands behind her back while Beth (who has sadly passed on, as well), holds her hair and guides her head into the water to bob for apples!
Cathy and me dancing at another party in 1969
(I just realized – she must have really loved those plaid pants – she’s wearing them at at least two different parties! We won’t mention the plaid pants I’m wearing!!! hahaha)
Cathy and me – slumber party 1968
When we moved on from Waterport school to the high school, we were “candy-stripers” together (a school club of girls who wore red and white striped pinafores over white dresses and volunteered at the hospital) and stayed connected as much as possible. But, we weren’t in a lot of classes together and after a while it got so we only saw each other outside of school. Life took Cathy down a different path than it did me and she moved to Canada in our early high school years. I lost track of her. I’ve thought of her so much over the years and wondered how she was and where life took her. I tried to contact her parents a few times, but was never able to connect with them and find out anything.
I understand from Margaret that she finished school and went on to college! I look forward to hearing more from Margaret when I can and perhaps even looking up her sons, who I’m told live near our home town.
I am deeply saddened by each of the classmates we’ve lost – some by senseless accidents, some from cancer or other illnesses, one by suicide, and one who was murdered by her own son. All were friends through the years – some closer than others – and my heart breaks for each and every one of them. But, the news of Cathy was especially devastating for me. Maybe because we were so close – even if only for a short portion of our life times. Maybe because I have felt a sense of loss over the years due to losing touch with her. Maybe because I’m finding out nearly 20 years after her death and I feel like I should have known long before now. Maybe because I knew she had a rough childhood and it just doesn’t seem fair that her life ended so early. The reason doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I keep her memory alive and that I continue to cherish the time we spent together all those years ago. What matters is that I don’t lose touch with other friends and keep those important connections solid for as long as we can! Life is short……and precious……spend as much time as you can with those who mean the most to you — family and friends — hold them dear, for they may be gone in an instant!
Cathy – 1970 – Rest in Peace, my friend – I will always remember you and there will forever be a rainbow between our hearts!!!