Age is just a number. You hear people say that all the time. I understand the sentiment behind the statement but sometimes that’s not how life rolls. I’m not one of those folks that thinks I’m invincible. Yes. Yes I realize one day my life will end. I think you begin to recognize your own mortality when you lose loved ones: grandparents, parents, the parents of friends…but losing your own FRIENDS makes you stop cold. It shakes you. I know we are all going to die but my friends in their 40’s should NOT be leaving this earth. Not now! No one my age should be dying. But that’s exactly what happened this weekend.
When I was in jr. high school I was awkward. At least that’s how I felt. Feathered hair, braces, boobs that were too big, no confidence….I think we all felt out of place at some point while growing up. I was an early bloomer physically but not so much socially. Starting 7th grade at a new school didn’t help either. I wasn’t allowed to wear makeup, didn’t really know lots of folks & I’d never had a boyfriend. Never kissed a boy. I just felt clueless. Then I met Lisa.
Lisa was and still is one of THE prettiest girls I’ve ever known. She has a smile that lights up a room & her eyes twinkle. I met her my first day of jr. high. We had classes together. I was shocked she spoke to me. I just didn’t feel like I was even CLOSE to being like her. Long story short, we became best friends. Looking back I’m not sure I would have survived jr. high without Lisa. ALL the guys were in love with her for obvious reasons. She was stunningly beautiful but also a sweet, nice person. Much like now, I was always the “guys girl”, the one that the dudes saw as one of the guys. I stood on the sidelines watching Lisa & others have boyfriends. Then in 8th grade I met John.
John was a year older than me. He was gorgeous. Brown hair, blue eyes and a sweet smile. He played football & baseball and was friends with everyone. Lisa knew him & had for years. For some reason he liked me. He thought I was pretty. I wasn’t really sure why. John was the first one to think I was beautiful. He was the first guy to tell me I had gorgeous eyes. He was my first love. We “dated” which meant we hung out in groups and talked on the phone lots. We held hands at school, kissed, wrote notes to each other…it was very innocent. When I turned 15 he gave me glass roses with a note that quoted a Journey song. John was the first boy to have a piece of my heart. Now, he’s gone.
I hadn’t thought about John or spoken to John in years. I knew he was married, happy and had kids. You lose touch with folks as you get older. It happens. Late Saturday night Lisa sent me a text & told me that John died. A heart attack from what she understood. I was shocked! No..I had not spoken to John in years but all of the sudden all these memories came flooding back. I flashed back to certain events: sneaking out of Lisa’s parents house to meet John outside so we could make out, wearing his jr. high football jacket, Lisa teaching me how to put on makeup since I had my first boyfriend, John’s smile…………I started crying. Lots. I thought about things that I didn’t realize I remembered! It was weird. All these thoughts came rolling into my brain. It’s hard to explain. One of the thoughts were the glass roses that John gave me for my birthday. I could see them…different shades of pink in a white vase. There were four of them. They were on my white wicker dresser that had five drawers. The roses sat on the right hand side. I would look up from my bed & always see them. Why John & I broke up I’ll never remember. It’s been WAY too long. But those roses I will always remember. I kept them for years.
Over the last year I’ve had friends lose parents. It’s sad and truth told, scary. I’m lucky enough to have both my parents still around. The thought of losing them makes me sick to my stomach but I realize one day it will happen. People my age are NOT supposed to die. It’s not supposed to happen damnit! A guy in his mid 40’s shouldn’t pass away due to a heart attack. His wife should NOT be a widow and his kids should NOT be fatherless.
I haven’t really felt this type of emotion. I’ve been through some seriously crazy “Lifetime” movie shit but this feeling I’m unfamiliar with. I’m saddened for all that knew him. My heart breaks for his wife, his children & his family. I am experiencing a strong sense of nostalgia. I am feeling fear. Fear of the unknown. Fear of losing people I know, people I’m close to, people I love…..
Power ballads make me cringe but last night I listened to “Send Her My Love” from Journey. I cannot remember the last time I heard the song. May have BEEN in 8th grade when I was seeing John. I cried. I mean cried like a girl. Been a long time since I did that too.
Tell the people ya love how much they mean to you. Hug your friends. MAKE time to enjoy laughs and smiles. And if someone from the past pops into your head…reach out & say HI. Ya never know…may be the last time you can.
As it says in the Journey tune: “Memories remain & roses never fade” Prayers to John’s family. May his wife and children find peace soon. RIP my dear friend.
Age is just a number but ya never know when your number will come up.