Coming up on 27 years now. How is it possible? I'm certainly not old enough to be out of high school that long. Only OLD people say stuff like, "I've been out of high school for 27 years now."
The gal on the right is Sue. I'm in the middle. And the gal on the left is Kristin.
Two years after high school, I was the maid of honor at Sue's wedding. Four years after that, I was the maid of honor at Kristin's wedding.
We all got our degrees and became professionals. Sue became a nurse, and Kristin and I chose teaching.
Sue moved to Missouri, but ended up in Georgia. Kristin moved to Chicago and ended up near Houston. I live within a mile from where we all grew up.
We all started families. Sue had twin girls first. Then shortly afterwards, had two more girls for a total of four for her and her husband, Shayne. Kristin and her husband Jeff also started a family and had two girls. I was the late bloomer of the group--the last to get married and the last to become a mama.
I vaguely remember there being a big gap in between years before the internet. (Okay, sounding old again.) As we re-connected as mothers via snail mail and eventually email, I also discovered we were all scrapbookers. This came as no surprise to me, of course. We all wrote notes in high school, loved office supplies, shared dreams of who we'd marry, wrote in each other's "MASH" books (there I go again! LOL), and took tons of photos.
I distinctly remember going completley overboard with Christmas cards for about 5 years. We each killed ourselves to make the BEST card. I waited anxiously every season to get theirs so we could compare notes. There was always a hand-written note and always photos of our growing families. We all took the liberty to lift one another's ideas because we lived so far apart, no one would know. Yes, a life before Facebook.
I distinctly remember reading a long letter from Sue one day. And in the middle of that letter, she ever so subtly mentioned that she had a lump in her breast they were looking into, and that it looked to be cancerous, so to please hold her in prayer. I immediately paniced. Sue was not a drama queen. It would be just like her to sugar-coat news like this. When Shayne proposed to her, she mentioned it in the third paragraph of a four paragraph note to me--and I wanted to choke her for being so non-challant. How is it possible?? She had no family history of breast cancer, and we were in our late 30's. This kinda stuff didn't happen to people like her. I was convinced and reassurred by her that everything would be just fine.
Her letters continued. So did the many beautiful photos of her daughters. She loved being a mother so much, she and Shayne decided to become foster parents. She got especially attached to a little baby boy named Cooper, and even considered adoption at one point. She sent photos of the two of them. She looked great. He hair grew back after treatment for breast cancer. I hated to keep bringing it up, simply because she seemed to be well and healthy, and who was I to say anything. Of course I'd know if something were to change.
Fast forward a couple of years. She moved. We moved. Her husband's job required them to relocate a lot, and that came into play. The internet and email came into play, but our emails changed along with the moves. We kept in touch, exchanged photos of our ever-growing families. And of course, Christmas cards.
I didn't become concerned immediately when I didn't get a Christmas card from her and her family in 2007. I thought she'd be the first to do an e-card (she was the most computer savvy of the group.) I waited until after the first of the year, and then I asked a few friends for advice, once I became suspecious. Google didn't turn anything up for me.
It was my sister Chrissy who helped me. She has always had mad computer skills, and I knew if something was out there, she'd find it. And she did.
Unfortunately, it wasn't good news at all. Sue had passed away from breast cancer at the age of 41 on May 22, 2008. I found out about it three weeks after her passing because Chrissy found an article on the American Cancer Society website. An obituary wasn't published. She never told me her cancer had returned. She never shared anything remotely close to being that ill except a few years before, while going through treatment. How is it possible?? How could she have shielded me from that kind of news, and how come I didn't pick up on it?? A million things ran through my head.
A few years have passed now, and even still, I find myself asking how it is possible that she is not here on this earthly planet. I know she loved me. I know she would've wanted to shield me from the pain. Maybe she just couldn't deal with telling one more person. I may never know the answer to the "why." But it doesn't really matter. She's not here, and I miss her. I loved her to bits. And she loved me back. We had a lot of laughter and a sisterhood that I'll never forget. And that's what have taken from it.
A few more years have gone by. I'm on Facebook. So is Sue's "baby sister" (who has children of her own now) and so are Sue's daughters. All four of them. Her youngest will be graduating high school in a couple of months. Sue's "baby" is now the age of that photo at the beginning of this post. And I ask...How is that possible???
This picture stopped me in my tracks when I saw it posted earlier this week by one of Sue's daughters. A photo of the four of them, all together, like the pictures I used to receive in cards and such from their mother. I'm not going to lie. I cried like a baby when I saw it.
Under the post on facebook, I wrote, "How is it possible that each one of you is so beautiful and unique--and GROWN UP??? My eyes are filled with tears as I type. Your mother would be SO PROUD of you all. I see a bit of her in each one of you. xo"
How is it possible that I see her in each and every one of their smiles and faces? How is it possible that she isn't behind the lens, taking that photo? How is it possible that she isn't here to talk about being their mother, to share stories and to compare notes? How?? How have they managed without her? Every girl needs her mother--especially at this time in their young lives .
How this is possible is beyond me.