It happens to the best of us.. Sometimes we don't realize it's happened and sometimes it's on purpose... After a while, you get busy and "life" gets in the way.. At least that's what you tell yourself.. Truth is sometimes it's hard to reach out after it's been so long... This happened to me with a very special person.. You see, my best friend since 11th grade died in April 2001 at the very young age of 27 and a little less than 3 months away from her 28th birthday.. She never got to really fall in love, get married, have children or be "on her own". She would have loved to do all of those things but she was sick a lot.. Christy was born a preemie and because of this and technology not being what it is nowadays she had so many ailments. The one you could "see" was that she was hard of hearing*..
This is how we met in a sense. I was the "new" kid in school and when I sat down at lunch, I noticed some girls making fun of her when she spoke. If you know anything about me, you should know that I don't like bullies.. Since it was my first day I didn't want to get in trouble, but alas that was not to be.. One of the girls was chuckling as another girl kept talking to Christy asking her questions, just to get her to speak. She had no idea they were making fun of her.. One girl said "She's a fucking retard.. Why is that retard walking around on her own" It was then that she realized they were talking about her and you could see the look of sadness on her face as she tried to explain.. I slowly got up from my seat and walked over to the girl and said "She's either deaf or hard of hearing and neither of those make her a retard, you should apologize" The girl said some not nice things and I may have slammed her face into the lunch table.. Christy smiled at me as the bell rang and she walked off with teary eyes..
I found my next class (Advanced Art for the gifted!) and low and behold who is in my class?!?! Christy! I sat across from her at her table and she smiled her big sweet smile... We were formally introduced and she introduced me to her interpreter (who she was always trying to escape because she didn't want people talking about her..) and I thought it was cool that he signed the teachers instructions to her.. We talked and exchanged numbers and a friendship was born! She called me a lot and it was very hard to have conversation with her because this girl REFUSED to wear her hearing aids, LOL!! We talked most weekends and her Mom was very protective of her so she was quite sheltered.. Her Mom didn't know what to make of this new friend her daughter had made! I was very outspoken and wise beyond my years (HA!) coming to town fresh from "Jersey" in my acid washed jeans and make-up and cool hats! Her mom promptly decided I was a bad influence and was very against her sleeping and our hang outs and movie girls nights out! She didn't forbid her from hanging out with me, but she wasn't happy about it because Christy started wearing make up and talking about boys almost immediately, haha!
Her mom finally decided I needed to sleep over there so she could get to know me. That was the best decision of our friendship, because her mom decided I was a really good friend for her daughter to have and we were thick as thieves from that point on (well even thicker than previously!) Senior year I turned 18 and moved back to NJ. Christy went on to college and we stayed in touch via letters and calls, but over the years it was less and less, but we had started emailing each other. I got married had a baby and my then husband went in the Army. We were in Virginia so I got to spend time with her then and after we moved, I always made a stop in Virginia to visit Christy and her mother. Once we moved to TX, I didn't get to see her on my visits since I wasn't traveling much due to having two little ones, but we still talked on the phone and wrote each other and I managed to get two visits in in a 3 year span so Christy and mom could see the boys.
All was great until September 1999 when a tornado hit Hampton, Va. It hit their apartment complex so they had to be relocated by the Red Cro.ss. The last I heard from her was they didn't know where they were going to be going, but she would let me know. That was the last time I would ever talk to her. I didn't come back to Virginia until August 2001 as a stop through on my way to NJ for a family reunion. We drove from Texas and stopped at my sisters. I was exhausted but before I went to rest I told her to get the phone book out because I had to look up Christy's mom so I could find Christy. When I woke up, I rushed down and found her number and called. She sounded good but a little sad, which at the time I thought was odd. She talked some and I had asked a few times "How is Christy or Where is Christy?" I guess she didn't hear me, because when I asked again she paused and said "Tonya who?" I said "Christy's friend Tonya from Texas" she got silent and then said "Oh, sweetie I'm so sorry.. I didn't know how to reach you... Christy died 4 months ago" I dropped the phone and started screaming and I couldn't catch my breath... My sister was freaking out asking me what was wrong and I managed to gasp out between sobs that Christy had died. She started to cry because she knew her too since she hung out at the house and we bugged my sister a lot... (*Christy was hard of hearing due to the tubes not connecting properly in her hears because she was born at 6mos weighing 1lb 3oz. She also had severe heart problems, for which she would undergo TWO open heart surgeries.. I visited her shortly after her second and she knew she needed a third, but she refused it. She wanted to move to California and be on her own, since she had always lived at home due to being ill. She moved to California and started school. It was there that she passed away, no family around. She went to the store on her bike and fell down in the parking lot, she never woke up. The paramedics worked on her for 30-40 minutes trying to revive her because she was so young. It wasn't until later on when they opened her up that it was revealed that her heart looked like it belonged to an 80 year old person and that a blood clot had gone straight to her heart. The doctor told her mom that unless she had been on the operating table at the time, nothing would have saved her from that clot.)
I finally was able to compose myself enough to talk to her mom again.. She kept apologizing and asking me if I was ok.. She said even though Christy was no longer here, she would love to see me and I didn't want to go because I knew it was going to be painful, but of course I went. I am so glad I did.. We talked and cried and she gave me a bookmark with Christy's obit on it to keep and a copy of the last picture they had taken as a family. I visited with her for a few hours and she asked if I would keep in touch, saying that talking with me helped keep Christy alive in spirit and it was so nice to see such a good friend of hers after so long.. I did stay in touch with her and would write her and call and send cards at the holidays and pictures of the kids. My kids became her "grandkids" and she was honorary "Mom" to me.. I was able to get up to visit her a few times over the years and always brought the boys with me and hubby and she embraced hubby right into the family..
Once again, time passed and we lost touch. I don't know how really.. I guess I just got so busy with my life and I didn't take the time to stay in touch with her. I feel really bad about that.. When I sat and thought about it, I realized it had been FIVE years since I have talked to her. I cried.. I was scared to call her because I was afraid that she might have passed away since she is older and she battled cancer during the last time we were in contact. I found her son on face.bo.ok and was tempted to reach out to him and make sure she was ok, but I knew in my heart that was the chicken way out, so I put my big girl panties on and I dialed her number. She answered and I could tell she recognized the voice was familiar but wasn't sure who it was. I told her it was "me, Tonya" and she said "Tonya.. It's been a REALLY long time!" and then I could hear the smile through the phone. She was really happy to hear from me and we just talked and talked. I updated her on the older boys and told her I would mail her their graduation pictures and the ones I had not sent to her over the years.. And then I told her she had a new grandson, Greyson! She cried and so did I.. She said she didn't want to wait for pictures in the mail and to please email them to her right now, LOL! I did let her know that I had tried to email her a few times, but it bounced back as an error and she let me know that she had changed emails and forgot to let me know. (I KNOW it's my fault though, because I could have called her at any time and gotten her new email address.) Once she heard about Greyson, it was as if we had never lost touch.. I promised her that I would do my absolute best to stay in touch better and I told her to please email me any time she felt like talking and I would call, if too much time had passed.. I feel like a HUGE weight has been lifted off my shoulders after talking to her..
I forgot how much I missed talking with her and talking about "our girl" and just remembering.. I remember one visit that I made to my sisters I told her I was stopping at Mrs. D's house and she met me there.. When we were leaving we just hugged for the longest time. On the way out I noticed my sister was wiping her eyes. I asked her what was wrong she said it was nice how I always made sure to visit her and make her feel apart of my life and that she could tell how much she loved me and my boys. She's right Mrs. D really does love my family and I feel terrible about all the years I let go by.. All I can do now is be a better "daughter" to her and keep her involved with pictures and calls.. I know this post was all over the place, but I wanted to share the back story so you would know the reasons why I feel it is so important to keep up this relationship. I never wanted her to miss out on "what could have been" with Christy, so my kids are her grandkids and I want to be there for her like I know Christy would have been.. I just hope my friend is looking down on me and smiling knowing that I have reconnected with her mom.. If you made it to the end of this you must really like me! :)
*I left out one of my favorite memories of Christy.. She taught me sign language in one weekend when she stayed over. We decided that when we got up Saturday morning, we would not speak a word. We signed the entire day and it made my mom and sister furious with us, of course we thought this was hilarious! I have so many wonderful memories of Christy. I wish she was still here, I miss her everyday..*