Let this be a lesson to me.

Oh, my friends.

Have you ever known somebody who died well before her time?

It’s a most unfortunate experience.

I can say that because, as of last weekend, I know how it feels.

*********************

Memories.

She had an infectious laugh.

I was eight when I met her after moving across the street from her family. We played together all the time. She had a pool, which made her house the favourite for our childhood escapades. We would pick up big rocks from the side of the house and hold them in our laps, letting them sink us to the bottom of the deep end for as long as we could last—we liked how it helped us stay down there longer than we ever could on our own. Her dad hated it, told us to stop, so we did. Her older brothers were scary, (maybe just intimidating), so we stayed away from them.

Together, we buried a time capsule two inches beneath the earth in the dry empty lot at the end of our cul-de-sac, and dug it up the next day because we couldn’t stand the suspense.

We were disappointed that nothing had changed, that time was moving so slowly, things were taking so long to happen. Silly.

One time after Achievement Day (it’s like Girl Scouts for Mormons), while she was still inside, I played a silly trick on her, moving her bike from the Achievement Day leader’s house to the driveway of her parents’ house down the street, making her think it got stolen. Then we were all going to have a good laugh together when I told her where it was. Only it really did get stolen during the ten minutes it took me to reveal the prank. I never had cruel intentions, but I was stupid. I don’t remember if I had to pay for it or not.

We were ten or eleven. I always felt bad about it.

Later, when I went to Junior High, “playing” stopped being the thing to do. We went to different schools…were in different grades. Without playing, the common bond was broken.

Our time capsule anxiety had paid off; things were happening so quickly nobody could keep up.

I always liked her, though. I suppose she always liked me back. We weren’t close, but we were still friends.

One night when I was in eighth grade, we were awoken by a pounding on our front door—there she was, sobbing in an oversized t-shirt: their house was on fire, could we help? We couldn’t, not really, but we tried desperately. Someone scrounged up blankets. The whole neighborhood watched it burn, burn, burn. She was in tears, I gave her a hug. A pitiful offering.

High school, college, Canada, Belgium. Canada again, this time for good. I moved away, came back, and she was always there with a welcome home and a grin.

Of course she was always there—all the people we’ve always known are always supposed to be there. Always.

Until, one day, they’re not anymore.

And when that happens, it’s unsettling because their Facebook accounts are still active; in the days since her death, I have continued to get daily automated updates about how she discovered so-and-so as her friend of the day, and my first reaction is always, “Oh, good, a new friend,” but that only lasts for the split second before something—what is it?—triggers, reminding me that it’s not real, she’s not alive anymore, and those friends of the day are missing out on knowing a sweet person.

On the one hand I don’t even feel worthy to write this memory: it feels disrespectful to her family, to those who remained better friends with her throughout her life. Because really, we haven’t been close for years. I wasn’t the best friend I could have been. I’m antisocial on a good day, and that kind of personality does not lend itself to a great number of long-lasting friendships.

Excuses.

But on the other hand, if there were any way of letting her know how I feel about it all, I figure I ought to try. I don’t know…maybe they have blogs in heaven. If so, I hope they get to read them on Macs.

Jokes.

So now, I join the ranks of all the people who have written messages to her on her Facebook wall—well, not her wall, but this blog; either way, it’s a message she’ll never see, never read. That first day, I was so annoyed with those notes on her wall: “Really?” I asked.  “As if she is going to log in to Facebook in heaven? You should’ve said all that stuff while she was still here to read it.”

YOU SHOULD HAVE SAID ALL THAT STUFF WHILE SHE WAS STILL HERE TO READ IT.

I should have.

Defense mechanisms, self-loathing, call it what you will.

In subsequent years, I would regret my decision to quit playing.

About Camille

I'm Camille. I have a butt-chin. I live in Canada. I was born in Arizona. I like Diet Dr. Pepper. Hello. You can find me on Twitter @archiveslives, Facebook at facebook.com/archivesofourlives, instagram at ArchivesLives, and elsewhere.
This entry was posted in introspection, looking back, sad things and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Let this be a lesson to me.

  1. I was never around Jill much but I saw her from time to time through mutual relationships. She was always a very sweet girl. Not that my opinion will make much of a difference but I think this was a beautiful reflection and introspection piece. And I do think you did it and her justice. Im sure she also remebered your playtimes fondly. She will be missed by many.

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  3. DeAnna says:

    *hugs Dealing with death is hard on anyone, we wouldn’t be human if we didn’t grieve. It is a huge reminder to say the things that matter to the people that matter. Beautiful post.

  4. Geevz says:

    Oh Camille. I know. I have a lump in my throat because I know. And there is nothing I can say. I’m sorry.

    Beautifully written.

  5. So sorry to hear about your loss. What a lovely tribute to your friend.

  6. I’m so sorry for your loss. You could not have put those memories more beautifully. I loved it. I hope her family and friends will feel comfort at this time. Life just gets harder and harder. I never knew anyone who died when I was young and as I get older and older I hear of more acquaintances, friends’ parents, even babies who cross the veil. It breaks my heart. What I do know is that the family members and those closest to these people who pass on are strong enough to endure the trial of losing that loved one and strong enough to endure life without them. Thank goodness for the plan of salvation. My prayers will be with you and those who knew your dear friend.

  7. Kathryn says:

    Dang it Camille – make me go and cry. Nothing ever seems enough after they are gone. I’m glad I knew her.

  8. Chloe says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss. This post is a beautiful tribute to your friend.

  9. Granmama says:

    You made the sad lump in my chest swell. It is beautiful to share and reflect. Remember the Star Studio make-over. I just saw that picture when I was over at her parent’s house. It brought back long forgotten memories. I love you and can’t wait for you to get her. Losing Jill makes me want to se you even more than Preston and I already want to see MO.

  10. dunno says:

    Your words are indeed an eloquent tribute to your friend, and will help other readers who knew her too. Good for you.

    Yeah, i watched a best friend die of a long ugly disease…never really get over it…i wouldn’t even try to blog about it, i’m sure i’d die of dehydration, after days of crying. I always cry when i think of him. Sure lets ya know, life is short. Too short.

  11. Jamie says:

    I think childhood friendships are the ones rooted the deepest in our hearts. No matter what happens or how much time passes, the precious memories are always there.

    Jill’s family is in my prayers.

  12. Maureen says:

    A friend of mine died from cancer when we were 15. We had been close, but then grew apart due to a number of events I still feel guilty about. So I kind of know how you feel. I’m sorry for your loss.

  13. Mikelle says:

    Thank you for writing this. I wish the same too…why don’t we tell people the things we want them to know when we think them in our heads? Why do we keep it inside until it’s too late? I love Jill-she had a huge heart- but I never told her that either.

  14. Whitney says:

    Camille dont beat yourself up. This is a beautiful post and tribute. Jill was an amazing person and we are all better for knowing her. We probably all should have been better friends. Her smiling face will certainly be missed.

  15. Molly says:

    Today I attended the funeral. Your impact was lasting. Her mother mentioned you by NAME in her life story. I, was not nearly as close a friend to her as you, and yet, I felt completely in the right place sitting at the service today, bawling my eyes out. Thinking of all the things I could have done to make a day brighter. We can all do more, but we are also our own worst critics. We are quick to discredit the lasting impressions we make on he lives of others.

    She was a wonderful girl with so many lifetime achievements. She will be missed, more than she ever knew in life she would be… but I wonder how much we all feel that way.

    It was a beautiful service. I attended for you by proxy :) sending sparse, warm AZ rain sprinkles your way… -Molly

  16. Christopher says:

    Thank you for writing this. I wish the same too…why don’t we tell people the things we want them to know when we think them in our heads? Why do we keep it inside until it’s too late? I love Jill-she had a huge heart- but I never told her that either.

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