Wednesday, September 12, 2012

She Was My Friend

Things that happened in the past make you who you are, memories of past experiences are cloudy or clear depending on how they affected you, the loss of a friend or family member is always hard, but how clear is the memory of the first friend you ever lost.

I mentioned a girl in a post I wrote a couple of years ago, Connie was a close friend at the time, I only knew her for a short while but her friendship is one you remember.

We did fun things together, things like catching a ride on the side of a garbage truck rather than walk the few blocks home, gather pots of flowers to line the yard because they looked pretty, realized too late that we were fugitives from the law not because of the flower pots, and discuss notes in a bottle thrown into the sea, wondering if they are ever found and read.

Back then the garbage was collected into a truck with a big opening in the back, men scattered all directions twirling 55 gallon drums on their edge, rolling them along into peoples yards to dump the galvanized garbage cans, then onto the next yard, when the drums were filled they went back to the truck to empty the drums.

On the sides of these trucks were narrow platforms with handholds above them where some of the men rode, I remember one large black man who rode this truck, he would toss his barrel into the back of the truck, reach out his hand to us and yell, “Want a ride?” after lifting Connie, my Brother, and I onto the platform with him the truck would proceed down the alleyway.

The police incident where we “watched the police drive up and down the street searching the neighborhood from her front porch one afternoon, while we were avoiding the step mom only to find out that we were the ones being searched for since the step mom reported us missing.”

My brother and I had slipped off to Connie’s house to watch cartoons and play in her yard for a change, fugitives from the law, I was so embarrassed when we were treated as such, we had to ride in the back of a patrol car for the long one block ride home, Connie never gave us a hard time about this, because it had scared her just as bad as it did us.

Connie always talked about putting a note in a bottle to toss into the ocean, we lived nowhere near water so she would write a note and release it into the wind, the wind seemed to always blow and her notes took flight easily, most I feel ended up in the gutter of the street but you never know where the wind will take your words.

The garbage trucks no longer allow kids to catch a ride, the flower pots we had to take back because the lady across the alley convinced us they should stay where she had placed them in her own yard, no court records of our great escape ever came back to haunt us, and notes were never thrown into the sea.

Connie was killed when she stepped off the curb in front of an off duty ambulance, the driver of this ambulance had to care for her and transport her himself, since no other ambulances were available to come to her aid, this all happened a block from where we lived, she was seven years old and I just a few months over eight.

I ask myself how in the world can some ones memory stick with you this long, it has been a bit over forty five years since she was killed, and I still remember the fun we had that summer, I hope that at least one of her notes ended up in the hand of a person who smiled at the story written on note paper and released into the wind, a story from the eyes of a child.

Remember those you lost way back then and keep their memory alive, there are a lot of people who only touch you for a brief time but their memories last a lifetime, is there a friend you lost at a young age like this, one that keeps popping back into your head, or is it just me?

I find myself at her grave every time we go back to town, a girl who was my friend for nearly a year, back when we were just kids, the answer to why I do this is simple.

She was my friend.

21 comments:

  1. Beautifully written post, Jimmy!

    I didn't even know your friend Connie, yet I found myself getting very emotional reading your words about your childhood memories spent together as kids - especially the part about her note writing and releasing them to the wind.

    I myself have never lost a close friend when I was young, but I have lost a few close friends as I got older. In fact, I lost one a few years ago. She was an actress/friend I had worked with for many years in the theater, and it deeply affected me. Over the past years we lost contact with one another, so our friendship was not as close as the years before, but like you, I could not help but remember all the great times we spent together; forming lasting memories. Even now, I think of them.

    I don't think it's how long we knew someone or even if we were in close physical contact throughout the years that matters. It's the special bond we formed while together that keeps the memories alive in our heart.

    Thank you for sharing this story, buddy.

    Just beautiful.

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    1. Hey Ron, I too have lost people close to me but it seems that first one just keeps coming back, most likely the first one hits the hardest especially when it's someone that you were really close to.

      True thing is as long as we keep their memories alive they are never lost.

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  2. How awful, Jimmy. I remember you mentioned visiting a grave, in a post from a long time ago. Was this Connie? I think you said Cindy was with you and you took flowers?

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  3. Right after I posted that, I think I remembered that it was Cindy visiting a (special) grave and taking flowers.

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    1. Hi Ms. A, you have a good memory, the grave you are remembering is a little girl buried next to Raymond (Cindy's firstborn son who died as an infant), we have never noticed any flowers on her grave so we take extras for her when we go visit.

      Cindy goes with me to visit Connie but this is the first I have mentioned her death here.

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  4. I guess I'm one of the fortunate ones who never lost someone special when I was a kid. But Connie is immortal as long as you remember her.

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    1. Yes Sir, she will never go away completely as long as we keep her memory alive.

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  5. Recalling the things you did together must give you a lot of pleasure. It's lovely that you still remember Connie with affection.

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    1. Valerie, Isn't it funny that after forty five years the memories are that clear, I do enjoy remembering good times like this in spite of the loss.

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  6. I must have been about four years old when my best friend, Lorna Ellison got knocked over and killed, and I remember everything about that day.
    My brother and I were on the school bus, and he tried hard not to let me see...as older brothers do, but I remember the paramedics throwing buckets of water over the road, and her being put into an ambulance.
    I remember exactly what she was wearing that day, even down to a silver bracelet that she got for being a bridesmaid.
    Memories are such strange things, and I will never forget Emily. It is hard to believe that Tegen will be a year old in a couple of weeks.

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    1. Yes Megan, Memories are a strange and also vivid thing, how clear things like this actually are and at the same time how cloudy others will be, being that close when a friend is struck down will remain clear from now on.

      It seems like yesterday Emily was here.

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  7. A friend of mine died of cancer when I was about 11 and she was maybe 13. She wasn't even a close friend, lived across the street. She was the first person I ever knew who died of cancer and the first person who died that was so young.

    That kind of stuff sticks with you when you are young and impressionable.

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    1. Yes this kind of thing does stick with you, Cancer is a hard one and at that age makes a big impression for sure.

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  8. Wow what a story and memory for you!!

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    1. Hi Bev, I do cherish the memories, life is a good source of stories and the truth is the best for me.

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  9. I remember losing a lot of people I cared about as a child, but the death that effected me the most was a boy who was just a year older than I was. Leukemia. He was so full of life and laughter. And then, BOOM! he wasn't. A real shocker.

    Thanks for visiting my blog. I figured I'd return the favor. Nice to meetcha.

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    1. Hi Susan, Isn't it strange that the ones so full of life are the ones stricken with these conditions that take them away from us too soon, even though you know it's coming the actual death always takes us by surprise.

      I'm proud you dropped by for a visit, hope to see you again real soon.

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  10. Great post Jimmy! Somethings really seem to stick with us. It doesn't matter how many years have passed, they just don't go away. I've lost some people close to me in my life also. I'm not sure my memories are as vivid as this one, but they are still there. Nice writing...

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    1. Thank You Pat, it's funny the ones you remember and others that you just don't, I guess this one hit hard because she was my age and the memories stick for the same reason including the fact she was a friend

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  11. What a heart wrenching post. I lost a few friends during my teen years....one to leukemia and one in a motorcycle accident. I think of them often. My husband lost his good friend around the sme age as you were when they were riding bikes together. A driver hit his friend who was riding right behind him. I think it has really affected him in some ways.

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    1. Hey Bijoux, I am sure he will always remember that day, as you know losing a friend like this is absolutely heart breaking and you will never forget them, it is a comfort to remember the good times you shared.

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