We were 23/24 years old when this picture was made. I’ve known her since we were 10. She was the first friend I met when starting a new elementary school in the 5th grade.
Countless sleepovers, then when her family moved basically one street over, endless bike rides to each other’s houses. Her adorable little Pomeranians. Her older brother’s boa constrictor that freaked me out but she thought was so cool. Her white wicker furniture I always wish I had. Her fascination with my contact lenses…she’d want to clean them whenever we would spend the night.
The blueberry muffins her mom made for breakfast. Letting us lick the bowl. Every time I make my kids these, I think of her. I told her that a few years ago. Instant grits with bacon bits. She loved them and got me hooked. Lots and lots of memories.
Going to her favorite place, Holden Beach in North Carolina with her extended family when we were in middle school. Everyone watching Dirty Dancing and me going into the next room at the beach house because I knew I wasn’t allowed to see it at the time. She came in to sit with me so I wouldn’t be alone. Rocking on the porch overlooking the ocean, singing Belinda Carlisle’s “Circle in the Sand.” We were in 7th grade. Every time I hear that song, I think of her. Sometimes as adults we’d send each other a message when hearing it on the radio.
Dancing for hours at Churchills on teen night to Tainted Love and lots of Depeche Mode. Unknowingly showing up to prom our Freshman year in identical dresses and laughing. She got her license first…and we’d drive around in her blue Honda civic listening to music with me holding the boom box because she didn’t have a radio.
As Seniors, we were batgirls for the high school baseball team. We learned how to spit seeds and keep count on the scoresheet. We screamed and shouted as the boys we had grown up with, most like brothers to us, won the state title.
Fast forward to our twenties…when I lived in Charlotte for a year, she drove from Greenville to go to the Backstreet Boys concert with me in 2001. On her way up she stopped and got her first tattoo…four leaf clovers since her oldest daughter was born on St. Patrick’s day a couple of years before. We laughed and (only half jokingly) screamed like we were teenagers at that concert and had a blast.
She flew to Denver for my bachelorette weekend a year later. There was a huge snowstorm, and I remember she cracked up that everyone seemed to just “pick a lane” to drive. Every time it snows like that, and drivers are truly making their own path, I think of her. She and my sister held each other tight on the flight home as we all were crying saying goodbye at the airport.
Her oldest daughter was one of my flower girls and she was an honorary attendant. All of our friends from Colorado who made the journey to our wedding in Greenville thought she had the best personality. She exuded hospitality to our guests and made sure they experienced why the South is so special.
I remember visiting her after her second daughter was born and learning why she had cabbage and sports bras on hand. I held her baby girl and day-dreamed about one day having little ones of my own. A few years later she helped throw my baby shower.
She would always come to my Dad’s house to see me when I was back home for a visit. Often asking about my kids through email and later on, Facebook.
She was the first friend to text me when news broke that my Dad had died from cancer. She came to his funeral so she could give me a hug.
Although miles separated us and time even more so these last few years, there are so many memories held close in my heart. These are the ones flooding back over the last few days. The tears keep falling.
What I would give to be able to hop on a plane and hug her family tight tomorrow morning as her life is celebrated. It’s moments like these that I would give anything for two states to be not so far apart.
It’s starting to snow in Denver right now. I’m not sure how much we’re going to get tonight, but tomorrow I’m going to go out in my car and smile (and I’m sure I’ll cry), thinking of my childhood friend as I ‘pick a lane’.
I will always treasure our friendship and am thanking God for the gift of knowing her. Missing you, Jennifer.