Warning: Potential Tear-Jerker
Cardinals appear when angels are near.
Fifteen years ago this summer I lost my best friend. Last week I saw my first cardinal of 2017. Every time I see a cardinal, I make sure to say “hi Holly” out loud. I know it might sound crazy, but her mom taught me that cardinals appear when angels are near. So no matter how many angels I gain in my life, she will forever be on my heart.
At some point every year, usually many times a year, I wonder where we would be today. I wonder if we would even still be friends. I think the answer is certainly yes. I didn’t stay close with anybody from that class, but the older I get and the more experiences I have with other people, I realize how precious those early years are. I realize how much we absorb without realizing it, and how much that shapes our decisions later in life. I look back and I could definitely see us staying really close friends. Even now, when I see her best friend’s Facebook posts, and her mom and dad smiling at the wonderful baby girl who is her niece, I know that we could have made it through life together. I know we would have shared a lot of love for each other. But knowing this makes it so much harder.
The worst part about memories is that they can never be remade.
She was the first person close to me to die. But let me tell you about the year she died- this is something I always have an easy time talking about because I think it sounds almost fictional, and I think that it really puts things into perspective for people. Right before school started, we found out our teacher had been diagnosed with brain cancer and would not be starting the school year with us. She died three short months later in November. About one month into school, the twin towers went down. At the time we had a long-term substitute teacher. I’ll spare you the “I remember where I was story” but I swear to you, the image of his face is burned into my head forever. And then after all of this we had to deal with one of our peers being sick. Really sick. She declined way too fast for my little brain to process. I remember what my birthday party was that year. Why? Because she was really excited about it, but then she was too sick to come. I remember conversations that we had after she had to leave school. I have so many memories, but the worst part about memories is that they can never be remade. They can never happen again. They’re stuck up in my brain forever.
She loved Winnie the Pooh, every time I see something with Pooh on it I think of her instantly. I still have a necklace and a set of earrings, one from her mom and one from my mom (and I don’t know which is from whom anymore) that I’ll wear whenever I really miss her. The necklace barely fits anymore, but I don’t care. I will keep it forever. Maybe one day I’ll pass it on to my daughter and tell her how much I loved my dear friend, but for now it’s mine and ours.
The holly tree doesn’t lose its needles or color when the days get shorter and the nights get longer. It always looks amazing and beautiful, and that is how I will forever remember my friend.
I guess I have no idea why I started writing this tonight other than to share my thoughts and feelings with my readers. Losing somebody is never easy, but if you’re one of those left on earth, there’s nothing to do except to move on. Especially when you’re ten years old. I have lived more of my life without my dear friend compared to the years we spent together. And I didn’t even know her for all of those ten years, although it feels like I did. I realized a couple of paragraphs ago that I wasn’t using her name, I think that made it easier to go on and keep writing. But she is not a nameless person, she is not just another angel in heaven, her name is Holly. The holly tree is an evergreen. It doesn’t lose its needles or color when the days get shorter and the nights get longer. It always looks amazing and beautiful, and that is how I will forever remember my friend.