Living in a Perfect World: Loss of Childhood Friends Gives Back Rich Memories.
LivinginaPerfectworld.com sent this over as a cross-over post from Lark Lennox. Occasionally Lark has posted here and she posts occasionally on Living in a Perfect World.
I met my pal Joey at an all-girls camp when we were 11. Our friendship spanned four decades (with a few gaps). When we reconnected, it was as if we’d never been apart. We spent 8 weeks together every summer, and Christmas and Easter vacations together in between. Eventually, we even went to college together.
We lost contact a few times but we were always “best friends.”
I always thought that as long as her name was in my address book, she was within reach. (Yes, that’s a lot clumsier than James Taylor’s lyric, “I always thought that I’d see you again,” but that’s what I believed.)
It doesn’t work that way. Joey died in 2007.
This is the letter that I wrote to her mother.
I hope that you are well and that this letter doesn’t cause more harm than good.
I just learned about Joey a few days ago, and even though it’s been such a long time, I needed to write to tell you how very, very sorry I am.
Joey and I sometimes went long stretches without being in touch, but when we’d get together again, it always felt like the old days of being best friends.
She gave me a huge amount of love and support during very difficult times, helping me deal with my runaway 16-year-old daughter, the end of my marriage and other challenges.
I knew she had a series of problems associated with her illness. When she stopped answering my emails and returning my calls, I convinced myself that my issues were just too draining for her to deal with. I didn’t want to contribute to her stress. I always believed that when she was feeling stronger, we’d be back in each other’s lives full-time. I am so sorry that I wasn’t there for her or to give you some measure of support.
Over the past few days, I’ve been retrieving memories of times with Joey. I’ve been lucky to have a number of friends who counseled and comforted me during hard times–and your daughter was always one of them–but more importantly, I realized that the absolute best, silliest, most fun times of my life were spent with her as well. Over the years, we spent a lot of time being goofy and laughing uncontrollably. (Once, when we were about 16, my mother accused us of being “on drugs” because we were laughing so hard. That just made us laugh harder.)
Our last summer at Camp K, Joey and I had matching “footie” pajamas. We’d perform “Little Bunny Foo-Foo” for our bunkmates. It was silly enough at 15, but we actually reprised the roles for friends when we were in college.
I know that we could be a handful for our counselors and parents. It’s hard for me to apologize with a completely straight face, but I do hope we didn’t cause too much trouble. (When counselors told us that we were rotten to the core, rats and finks, we made up our little “Rat Cheer” to celebrate the frustration we caused. “Rats to the end, Rotten to the core, Finks alllll the way through…” We did the cheer whenever we got together, even as adults. It always ended with hysterical laughter and a big hug.)
My parents loved Joey, too. Even when he became very forgetful in later years, my father often remembered her and asked what she was up to. I guess we hadn’t annoyed him too much, because he always smiled and chuckled at the mention of her name, saying “She’s quite a character.”
My daughter went to Camp K for several summers. She loved hearing about our escapades and, much to my chagrin, she tried to recreate some of them when she was a camper. I drove her to and from camp each year–and I loved recapturing that feeling of joy that Joey and I shared at camp. (I know we sometimes acted as if we thought we were prisoners, but the kvetching was a sham. We had a blast.)
I always called Joey when I returned from those trips so I could share the experience with her. Inevitably, the conversation would turn to, “Remember when we…?” and we’d retrieve more memories of great times together.
I loved your daughter and I had more fun with her than with anyone else on the planet. Thank you for making her for me. Thank you for sharing her with me.
Thank you to Lark Lennox for her precious memories and pain-filled sharing of love and friendship. Thank you to LivinginaPerfectWorld.com for sharing this as well.