Thursday, January 31, 2013

For Susan

Sometimes, life has funny twists to it.

I received the news via Facebook today that an old friend passed away. It made me sad, not because I had known her for over ten years, but because I had only recently begun to TRULY know her.

We had study hall and a few classes together in high school. She was part of the graduating class a year behind mine, and we never really talked much then. She struck me as quiet and shy…but she had a fantastic laugh. I discovered that when I let her read some of the cartoons I was drawing in class one day. There I was, the awkward guy who was always drawing in his notebook, sharing what I was drawing with someone who found it funny, and I’ll never forget the laughs it brought out in the otherwise quiet redhead in the back of the class.

After I graduated, I lost touch with her, as I did many of my former high school friends. I went off to college, made new friends, and although I reconnected with a lot of folks when the Myspace and Facebook era dawned, I heard nothing from or about that girl who had so enjoyed my drawings.

Then, one day, I got a Facebook request. It was her. Of course I accepted, as I do for just about every other old acquaintance who wants to know what I’m up to these days. But she took it a step further and started messaging me. We shared our stories, cracked some jokes, and recalled our trials and tribulations of high school life so long ago. Eventually, she called me on the phone and talked to me, and she told me that she had always admired me and my art, and that she remembered how kind I was to her when many others weren’t. She explained, in grim detail, a battle with drug addiction she had fought (and won.)  She told me about her life, her family, and her interests…things we had never discussed back in the day.

From then on, we kept in touch via Facebook and texted each other once in a while. I loved her sense of humor…she would send me jokes via text message and comment on my random Facebook updates with one-liners and sarcasm that were a joy to read.

She offered her advice and sympathy when my family was having a rough Christmas up in Fort Worth a couple years ago, and even offered to meet me for lunch, a plan that, regrettably, didn’t work out.

I talked to her right before she got married, and we lost touch for a little while again. This summer, I got word via her husband that she had been very ill, fighting a disease known as Guillain–BarrĂ© Syndrome. I later heard that she was doing much better, and eventually I got a text from her asking for my address so she could send me a Christmas card, as we had exchanged cards for a few years prior. I asked how she was doing, and she told me that she was getting better, but very slowly, and was frustrated by the slow progress. We exchanged addresses…and that was the last time I heard from her.


I don’t know if she ever got that card, and I didn’t get hers…but I hope mine gets forwarded to her new address in Heaven, and she can enjoy the laughter it brings her, forever.

I’ll miss you, Susan.

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