This past Monday on the 7th, I celebrated the birthday of a childhood friend. I first met her in the 5th grade when we competed against each other in a school election to be Secretary for the Student Council. It was a close race but I ended up winning.
Fast forward to 8th grade when we became good friends. At that time, it was a group of us that hung out together during lunch time. We dubbed ourselves The De La’s after the rap group, De La Soul. Everyday they would rap the Buddy song like they did in the video. We would entertain ourselves as we waited for the bell to ring that signaled the end of lunch. I wasn’t much of a rapper but she inspired me to learn the song after one of our friends learned the song before I did. I became the butt of her jokes after our friend jumped in unexpectedly during one of the rap sessions. I was the only one left in the entire group that didn’t know it.
All I can do is smile whenever I think back to our middle and high school days. People use to always see us laughing down the hallways almost pissing in our pants. Once they got to know us they automatically knew who was the cause of those giggling attacks. She never took anything serious and saw the humor in anything whether it was good or really bad. We stopped speaking to each other in high school over something that we should have resolved at that time. Instead, we graduated from high school never to speak to each other again.
Unfortunately, she passed away in 2003. However, I saw her again months before she died. I was working at a hospital in our hometown when an agency assigned her to work there too. I was responsible to meet all new employees to process their paperwork so when we saw each other there wasn’t much said. It was all business. I regret not speaking to her because a part of me wanted to forgive and forget.
One day I saw her walking down a hallway headed towards the conference room. A part of me wanted to call her name but the stubborn part didn’t allow me to. I watched her swing the door open wide as she entered the room. Even in those last moments of the door slowly closing, I still couldn’t muster up the courage to yell out her name. Every time I remember that image of her walking into that room, I compare it to her going to Heaven. Leaving me standing there speechless and never able to say good-bye.
I always felt that she was sent to work there by fate. That agency could have sent her to any other hospital but they didn’t. Even though she worked there for a short time, many of the nurses said that she had a great sense of humor. She worked in the Neonatal Care unit for sick babies and I’m sure her presence was greatly missed. I found out later that once she finished nursing school she returned to our hometown to be closer to her family. Also, she was able to attend her best friend’s wedding and became engaged months earlier. She was able to say “good-bye” to everyone…including me.
It’s because of her I cherish each birthday. She was only 27 years old and two months pregnant when she died. I can’t imagine ever lying about my age or taking life for granted. She taught me how to laugh at myself and to see the good when things were bad. I’m sure she’s up in Heaven making all the angels laugh. It wouldn’t surprise me if she has a posse of angels singing the Buddy song too!
I no longer think that “age ain’t nothin’ but a number” because if you can live as long as my mother who is 69 years-old or anyone older, then I count that as a Blessing. My friend isn’t able to celebrate anymore birthdays and I can’t take mines for granted. It would be a form of disrespect to my childhood friend and the millions of other people who died at a young age. Celebrate life. Celebrate motherhood. Celebrate You! Remember those who can’t celebrate no more the next time you want to lie about your age.
Written by: Max-Laine
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