Today I had a visit with a dear friend.
Our voices were silent, but our hearts were full of words – raw emotion, memories of youthful promises and funny reckless tales, travels and dreams — tied together with laughter, smiles and later tears.
The sounds have been silent for 30 years, but the voices plague my head with echoes so vibrant, this kingdom cannot sleep. I think about what would have been, could have been, and should have been. A night long ago, on a trip I did not take, yet stopping my world cold.
In the spring of 1984, two beautiful lives were snuffed out by a selfish, young and rather indignant drunk driver. It was spring break in Palm Springs – a town filled with the good life and those ready to party. A town which over prior years we had partied within… it had held our weekend jaunts, getaways of sun and fun and many evenings promising good times and memories for college and beyond. After this night however, for me it became a town of fun no more.
But time is a tricky thing. It has a way of making even the bad memories better. And though I can’t remember a worse loss in my life, I can easily remember all the good that came before it. Yesterday marked 30 years – 30 years since her last birthday and also since we had our fun. Just a blink of an eye, yet a lifetime of instances never to be shared with my friend — the later life and family of mine that she would never know. The person that with thanks to her, I became.
In college we were both inseparable and indestructible. Like all our age, we lived for the moment. All-night-ers were never for studies – they were for 3AM drives to Mammoth –arriving just in time to ski, hot dogging on the slopes all day and if we didn’t find a place to stay, later driving the 6-hour trek home.
Post formal parties on the Queen Mary and then on to the Bonaventure…the never ending weekends at the condo in Palm Springs, lounging all day in the pool with our “triple D’s” (‘Dede & Debbie Delights,’ a packed “punch” of well more than the “saturated” fruit that was included), and the endless talks in which every BFF is never too tired to partake.
But more than the good times, was the person behind them. She was a teacher by trade, and a lover of life. A traveler who found beauty in all she encountered and brought it back to share. Together we did Boston, and later she did the world.
Some people are lucky enough to be the type that everyone wants to be around – for Dede, her smile, warmth and laughter were the entry point for friendship across the globe. There wasn’t a guy we had met, in school, on a ski-lift, or passing on the street that didn’t want to be around her, even children couldn’t get enough of her. Yes, you could say she was one of those lucky ones, but in truth, it was us who were luckiest to have her for the time we did.
Even 30 years later, there are secrets that will make me smile and I will never forget. When we were freshman, and they told us “sisterhood is forever,” we laughed and couldn’t think that far…but true is true. And today, I had a visit with a very dear old friend, and I brought her a simple gift.
It was only one “bird of paradise” but its meaning was worth more than a full garden. And the memories represented by it continue to touch my heart, as it also opens a 30-year window that has been remiss of a beautiful bird that is no more.