My Long-Ago Friend

This time of year is filled with all sorts of endings and beginnings and lovely events. Spring has been in full bloom for awhile in some parts of the world, and fall in other parts of the world. Proms, commencements, and for some new jobs are beginning, too. I had recently heard that my high school class was having its 40th reunion. I remember when my parents were having their 40th reunion and thinking ~”dang they are old”. Now I think to myself “dang 40 years went by fast”. This year I would love to be able to get to the reunion, but life’s responsibilities will keep me away

I have been back to my college a few times for reunions. Those reunions are only every 5 years. To clarify, though, each year there are reunions, but let’s say you graduated in 1910. then your reunions would be in 1915, 1920, and so on. Anyway, my husband and I have been back for a few of those, but not as many as we would have wished.

My high school reunions? I haven’t been back for any of them. To me high school wasn’t the be-all and end-all. I enjoyed my classes and the people I knew. Many of my closest friends at the time attended my high school. But with a few exceptions, most of my friendships were at my church youth group. Some attended my high school, and some other high schools. In my youth group, my closest friends were 2 years behind me in HS. We didn’t socialize at school, only at my youth group.

There was one friend I had at school that was not in my youth group. We were not of the same faith, but that mattered not. I will call her “Mary”.  She and I loved to read—and enjoyed writing as well. We were on the editorial board for our high school literary magazine. She did that because she loved that aspect in addition to being a terrific writer. I joined our senior year in the hopes that some of my submissions would get published. I figured my stuff would have 2 votes and we could convince 2 more. No such luck, though! My stuff was pretty pedestrian!

“Mary” and I lived in the same neighborhood.Now we came of age in the early 1970s. “Mary” was a big proponent of women’s rights, equal pay for equal work, increasing opportunities etc. She and my dad loved jousting with each other. Dad was so fun and enjoyed teasing her. She would tease right back. One time she had spent the day, dinnertime, and on into the evening at our house. She went to leave and drive home. She had to come back in and ask my dad to help her get her get her car unstuck from the snowdrift. Oh she and dad had so much fun laughing about that. This happened when “Mary” and I were in college. We were still good friends, but we attended different colleges and almost never got the chance to see each other; only when we were home on breaks.

As it so happened, we each spent a semester in Europe when we were in college. We were in different countries and did try to get together, but it just didn’t work out. A few weeks after I graduated from college, my family and I moved to another state. I haven’t been in touch with “Mary” since. I guess I had moved so many times by that point in my life that I had become accustomed to compartmentalizing my life.

Over the past few years I have tried to track “Mary” and some other friends down, without success. Recently I asked my high school reunion group if anyone knew where “Mary” and some other friends are now. I figured if I could find her, we could re=-connect. Mary is a brilliant, loving, vivacious, giving, compassionate, wonderful friend. I was excited at the prospect of filling in the gaps.

I ask your prayers for Mary and her parents and sister. I found out this week that as it turns out that less than 10 years after I moved away, Mary committed suicide~she was only 30 years old. It breaks my heart to think of what painful things may have been going on in her life and in her heart to brought her to that decision. It does not fit with the girl I knew. It breaks my heart to consider that we who knew her and loved her were not there for her when we needed her. To consider that she had been in pain for many years makes me wish that I could have gathered her up and helped her heal.  I regret the years of non-contact I had, and that I cannot ever have time with her on earth. It brings me comfort to consider that my dad was there to meet her at the pearly gates, and with a hug and laughter, hold the door open for her~just to see her laughingly protest.course, Heaven : The pearly gates of Heaven being opened Stock Photo I pray she is at peace. I cannot believe that she is gone. As far as which of them would hold the gate open, though, my vision is backwards. Her death preceded my dad’s by more than 2 decades. How great their laughter would be if she held the gate open for him, instead.

She was such a compassionate, outspoken, loving woman. I cherish more than ever the wonderful and heartwarming times she had with my family and the hours of talks she and I shared. I will always remember her laugh, her smile, her brilliant insights, her views, her kindness. I pray that in her final moments she found peace and eternal life. I pray for those who knew her and loved her that will always miss her. I am grateful that I had the gift of her friendship.

I am more dedicated than ever to try to stay connected to people. I hope to catch up with your blogs next weekend. That is the best I can do with the next week. But know this: you are loved; you are not alone; you matter; your life matters; your absence would leave a gap that cannot be filled by anyone but you. Reach out folks……we need to lift each other up. Let us all grow old together, okay?

About Kate Kresse

I love to write, I love to talk, I love to uplift people when I can. I am a woman in love with life. I am a wife, mom, tutor, writer, and I am a perennial optimist. (OK not every single minute but you get the point! :-)
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25 Responses to My Long-Ago Friend

  1. niasunset says:

    I am so sad to hear this dear Kate, R.I.P. to your friend. My prayers for her too.
    Love, nia

  2. AlohaKarina says:

    There is nothing worse than losing a friend to suicide. We have been through that. It’s horrifying and leaves you wondering if you could have done something to stop them. But none of us could–once a person decides to commit suicide, there is nothing you can really do, if they’re determined. 😦 Hugs and blessings to you.

    • Kate Kresse says:

      Thanks Karina…..it is just so stunning. I am so grateful for the precious memories I do have of my time spent with her. Such a tragic loss—the world would have loved her gifts. We always think we will have more time with each other, don’t we? I am sorry that you have been through that, too.

      • AlohaKarina says:

        It’s true, we never know what tomorrow brings. I just find it horrible and sad that our friend was so worn down that he just wanted to be done…and that somehow, in his mind, he thought we would be okay with it. He was funny and talented and always made us laugh. And he was great with kids. My girls still miss him.

        • Kate Kresse says:

          I find that horrible and sad, too Karina. What a tremendous loss. It leaves an unfillable hole, and why he thought you all would be okay with him taking his life is a mystery. It certainly reflects the depth of his sorrow or illness or whatever it is that brought him to that point. It must be so very difficult. I am so sorry for your loss.

  3. My goodness, Kate. What a devastating piece of information for you to receive. I am so sorry. Suicide is never something we can really wrap our heads around. We just follow with our hearts and try to reach out to those left behind. Bless you! You have such a compassionate voice! Debra

    • Kate Kresse says:

      Thanks Debra. It was such a shock. I expected to discover that she was living in some amazing place with a wonderful husband and children, perhaps even grandchildren. I expected to find out that she was still a writer and perhaps working at a nonprofit or as an attorney. Instead she never did get the chance to marry. She was 30 years old and had a lifetime ahead of her Thanks for your kind words. I cherish my memories of her more than ever and am grateful they are still so vivid.

  4. Gilly Gee says:

    This is a very moving post Kate, I’m so sorry about Mary, so sad that so much potential was lost too soon.

  5. Oh Dear God Kate, i am so so sorry Honey
    This is the one that are most difficult for family;s and friends. Difficult because no one knows what to say. My father in law committed suicide in.2001, he was in a lot of severe pain, had been for sometime. Sadly the VA hospital which knew zero about pain management and a man born in the 1920’s saw being stoic as the manner in which to deal with 24/.7 pain. Then came bladder and liver cancer for which gets my dad in law feeling that there is no hope. And there he sat alone out on the boat dock.

    What do you say? When you have such strong beliefs that this is not God;s Intentions for anyone;s life what can you say? How do you reconcile this enough to share in their grief? To understand?

    God Speed Mary and Blessing abound for her family. Bless you Kate for caring so hard that it hurts. You are such a Love~.

    • Kate Kresse says:

      I am so sorry that your father-in-law suffered so and that all of you experienced such s difficult loss. How hard for him to have reached that point of hopelessness. I don’t know that you ever really wrap your mind and heart around such a thing as this. It is beyond understanding in a way. The pieces of the puzzle can be somewhat reassembled. But they are now misshapen and the picture is never quite right. We can only pray that in their final moments they found a way to reconcile with God and find peace before they died. I pray that her parents found some healing for their grief in their final years. I am grateful for the precious memories i do have of “Mary”. I pray that she greeted my dad at the gates of heaven with her wonderful laugh~and insisted on holding the door for him. they would have laughed uproariously at that.

  6. Caddo Veil says:

    This is a hard one, Kate–I’m so sorry for the loss of your friend, and the ache in your heart. I know that very desperation and pain, and it will always be Miraculous that God rescued me each time. He does have a Plan and Purpose for each one of us–and remember this, dear Sis: only God can be everywhere at once; we cannot. Praying He pours out His blessings on Mary’s family–and on you and your family. much love, sis Caddo

    • Kate Kresse says:

      I am truly sorry that you know that desperation and pain my friend; and I will be eternally grateful that God rescued you. I have fabulous memories of “Mary”; I am grateful I knew her and knew her giftedness and immense talent and loving heart. I pray that her parents found some healing for their grief in their final years. I thank you for your prayers and kind words. I am so very blessed to have had “Mary’s” friendship for the years I did.

  7. Northern Narratives says:

    I am very sorry to hear about “Mary”. I am glad that you have such happy memories of your time together 🙂

  8. Pingback: I wished I would have..... | Rich's Thoughts On Life

  9. So sorry, Kate. There are no words that help. Praying for those who have been hurt by this act.

  10. Momma E. says:

    So sorry for your loss. It may have happened decades ago, but for you it was just “yesterday”. I had a sort of similar experience with a family member who attempted suicide, but chose not to tell me for over a year. There was a lot of difficulty for me in coming to terms with what happened, and for her to understand that yes, she got through it and moved forward (Thank you God!) but for me, it just happened “yesterday” – and I needed to process what had happened. Maintaining connections takes a lot of dedication and work, but it is so very much worth it in the end. Love and Hugs! Donna

    • Kate Kresse says:

      Donna~boy oh boy DO you understand. It is so hard to get my head around it. you stated it perfectly. It is so much to process, and so very unfortunate. i am thankful that your family member was unsuccessful!. Thanks for your comment and understanding-Love, hugs and prayers~kate

  11. Dor says:

    Hello Kate. I was browsing through your blog posts and this one just struck me. My middle name is Ann (after my Mom’s best friend, who committed suicide). I know a little now of how my Mom must have felt. Thanks so much for sharing. P.S. My new blog is up and I would love it if you follow me again at http://countryliving4beginners.wordpress.com . Thanks for your support in the past. Dor

    • Kate Kresse says:

      awww so sorry about your Mom’s best friend; and honor to be named (middle-named) after someone so dear to your mom’s heart. Popped over to your new blog—you rock!

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