Do you remember how you made friends with the person who became one of your best friends? I totally remember in 6th grade when this new girl entered our classroom. She looked scared and unsure if she really wanted to be there. She was taller than most of us and had two bushy, long ponytails. We didn’t immediately say anything to each other. It wasn’t until later on the playground, when I asked where she lived that we shared our first conversation.
That first conversation lead too many other conversations, laughs and even heart felt cries over the years. We grew up together often sharing food, clothes and other silly things that young girls who are similarly intrigued do. Our love for basketball and track grew us closer together, as well as sharing the same church pastor, singing in the junior choir and riding the same bus to school. On the hardwood, I was the two and she the four. My go to girl when coach said pass the ball down low. I cheered her on as she sprinted around the track and she encouraged me to jump the hurdles with flair of Benita Fitzgerald during the 1984 Olympics.
I was the semi-quiet girl, but she was the true quiet one, whose radiant smile always brightened my day. She was the friend who always spoke the truth and stood her ground in the most elegant manner. She took peer pressure by the neck gently choking it, never giving in to its bitter sweetness as I did. However, when some treated me differently after I became pregnant at the tender age of 15, she hugged me and said “It’s going to be alright.”
Life took us in different directions, but we never lost our connection. We could go months without talking to each other, but when one of us decided we had gone too long without talking and called the other, our conversation would pick up just where we left off. Our last conversation is one I’ll never forget. I could hear the smile, the strength and the hopefulness in her voice. She reassured me, when I couldn’t muster the strength to reassure her.
One high school memory made me laugh during her home going service. At one point, I was the youngest amongst all of my friends due to being born in September, so when Lola came along I just knew I was older than someone. I would say, I’m the oldest so you have to do what I say and she would reply “you’re not older than me”, but I did not want to hear it and further stated, “All I know is six comes before twenty-eight.” She stopped arguing with me about it and let me think I was older all those years. As I was reading the obituary, I noticed her birth year 1966.
As I stood in the cemetery taking in the beautiful California scenery, I realized that my life would never be the same. Her soft footprints left along my life’s pathway are a pleasant reminder of how important friendship is and makes me appreciate the understanding I’ve gained. Although she is no longer here, my memory box is full. In closing, I want to remind all of my sisters to do your monthly breast exam and remind your sister, mother, aunt, cousin and friends. On October 20th, Go Pink for a Cure at the Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure in Little Rock.