Thursday, December 1, 2011

Fast Car

You got a fast car
But is it fast enough so you can fly away
You gotta make a decision
You leave tonight or live and die this way

Man, every time I hear this song, it brings back memories. Memories of cruising Rivergate mall in my friend Cheryl's VW bug convertible singing at the top of our lungs, memories of listening to this song on "Love Songs" on the radio and wishing I could get away from the most recent boyfriend who had broke my heart, memories of being in college and having this on a mixed tape, yes tape.

So, this is Angie V. For those old schoolers to this blog, she has been mentioned before. A lot. We've been friends since I was 19 years old. We met at a Barbie collectors meeting. Yep, Barbies. I had a collecting bug when I was around 16 and that was when Holiday Barbies were THE thing that people lined up Toys R Us to buy. My sweet Granny was one of those ladies who fought to get me the holiday doll each year. Now as a parent, I personally don't line up for anything, but I truly appreciated that she did that for me.

When a local collectibles store announced in 1999 that they were going to start a club for people that collected Barbies, I was in. I was the first person at the meeting and was a nervous wreck. I knew NO ONE. Now, anyone that knows me knows I don't have a problem talking to anyone, even a wall, but I will admit looking back I was NERVOUS. As people started filing in, I became even more nervous as no one was sitting near me. I felt like the kid who is last to be picked in gym.

Well, guess who was late? Yep, Angie V. Guess where the only seat in the whole room was left? I bet you've figured it out. Neither one of us realized we would become the best of friends when we met that night. Neither one of us realized that she would be there when Granny died, when I had each of my children, that she would be at the airport when we stepped off the plane with Joshua. We also didn't realize I would be there when she lost her mom, Ms. Pat three years ago yesterday.

I'll never forget that day. We had just hung up from a quick chat (which we typically did about 6 times a day) and I had just kissed Jonathan goodbye as he ran to the store for milk. He got in the car and pulled away when the phone rang again. Looking at caller id, I saw it was Angie and laughed because I knew in our typical fashion, she had forgotten to tell me something. When I answered the phone with a "what did you forget!", I'll never forget her voice when she said, frantically, "Brea, I think my mom is dead"

When I think back to that night, those next few days, watching Angie struggle through the shock of loosing her sweet mother, I am reminded of how much I wanted to take my friend's pain away. I almost wished I could take Ms. Pat's place so that I didn't have to see the pain in everyone's eyes. I felt guilty missing her when I knew my pain of missing her was nothing compared to the grief Angie felt. And every time, I think of it, I think of Angie's voice saying it over and over again. Here's a picture of Ms. Pat along with Angie and her sisters, Margaret and Lisa

On November 20th, it happened again.

I grew up with Chris. We met when he transferred to our high school. He instantly became part of our group of friends and I was so excited when he starting dating my best friend since 6th grade, Kim. Chris' home instantly became the hang out spot. Someone in our group was always dating someone in his circle of guy friends, so we would hang out at his house, the guys playing pool downstairs and all the girls piled up in Chris' mom's bed. Sandra, Chris' mom, wanted to know everything about us. She wanted to know who we hung out with and why, who we were dating and why, where we were in our relationship with Christ. I bit my nails (have since I was 2) and I remember she always wore press on nails that she painted bright red.

After Jonathan and I married, we actually bought some property from Ms. Sandra that was right next to her home. We built our second house there. Anna would be playing outside and Sandra would walk over to chat. Anna says she remembers just swinging with Sandra in Sandra's back yard. She loved my children and still loved me. I remember sitting on her bed a few years after we married, answering the same questions: how was my marriage, how many children we wanted and so much more. She truly was interested and listened. Thinking back, I realize that back in high school, sometimes I think Ms. Sandra knew more about me than my own mother. Here's Chris with Sandra (man, I love this pic)
 Here's Laura with Sandra:
Here's some fun pictures of Kim and I. Yes, the first is from eighth grade (I think). Second is from our awesome trip to see NKOTB in Chicago:

As years have gone by, I've actually developed a very sweet friendship with Chris' younger sister, Laura. When she and her hubby Josh decided they wanted to add to their family through adoption, she called me. As we talked adoption, we also became friends. Sweet friends. It was nice to find someone as crazy as me that got adoption, especially transracial adoption. As time went on, I don't think I ever told Sandra what her children meant to me. I wish I had. I think she probably knew.

November 11th, Sandra was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. After a successful surgery four days later, things looked promising and Sandra was even moved to start therapies on Saturday, the 19th. On Sunday, the phone rang. I had been asleep with a migraine and had just woke up. As the phone rang, Jonathan told me something was going on with Sandra but he hadn't wanted to wake me. I saw that it was Kim and immediately asked her "what is going on with Sandra?" Kim said, "Brea, she died" in the faintest whisper. I was stunned. stunned. As I asked her what happened, I just couldn't believe this was happening. Sandra had a blood clot that took her very quickly. Chris and Laura's mom was gone.

Again, as I watched their faces over the next few days, I immediately wanted to take away their pain. I can't explain how it feels to be a friend watching your dear friends suffer. It didn't then and it still doesn't seem real. It doesn't seem possible that at 34 and 29 years old, Chris and Laura have lost their mother. Even as I type this, I'm not sure how long it will take for it to sink in. Again, I feel guilty missing her knowing that it sounds so silly when I know that I can't hold a candle to how much they miss her. I want to heal their hearts, I want their mom back.

It also makes me question how people go through a loss like this without faith. As I watched Kim, Chris and Laura at the funeral home, it really struck me at how strong they were. Yes, they are SO sad and miss her so much, but their strength can only be provided as something God given. Watching them process this grief, it has reminded me so much of what is truly important.

As I spent some time with Laura yesterday, I was once again reminded that the stuff of this world is just not important. As she, Angie V and I talked over lunch, it struck me how much both of them reminded me of their mothers. I know both Ms. Pat and Ms. Sandra would be so incredibly proud of their children and how they have processed their losses.

All that to say, I will remember so many things about those days right after Sandra died, but I will never forget Kimberly's voice when she called. The impact her beautiful voice would have on me. How much I would hurt for my friends. How much it would remind me of Angie loosing Ms. Pat. How much it would put my life back in perspective.

Laura encouraged me to write again, and I think it's time. It's time to start putting my thoughts down into something tangible, if for no other reason, so my kids can look back and see what an insane nut I was. I hope my kids speak the beautiful words that Chris and Laura spoke about their mother last week, "Well done, Mom, well done"

You got a fast car
But is it fast enough so you can fly away
You gotta make a decision
You leave tonight or live and die this way


Becca said...

Well said Brea! I remember the day I heard about Ms.Pat and being totally stunned and then again feeling that why about Ms.Sandra. my heart was broken for Laura and she was....well Laura. Strong, confident, loving, faithful like noone I have ever seen all the while missing her mother. I will probably never forget her faith and I pray I can be more like her. Welcome back to the blog world! We missed you!

Laura Kelley said... made me fall of my mountain, but it was well worth it. Thanks so much Brea. Glad you are back :)