Memoir writing is filled with the past and the many people I have shared some time with. Every year in October, I silently think about an old childhood friend. Mia Jones became one of my best friends when I lived in West Valley, New York. This month does not only share her birthday but also the month she left us. We only kept in contact through email in our 20’s, so the voice in my memory still reflects that of her 11-year-old self. There are things I wished I would have told her but didn’t. They are nothing earth-changing but have impacted my life nonetheless. This year I felt compelled to write her the following letter.
If I could speak to you again, I’d ask you if you were doing okay. We would reminisce about when your brother, Frank, made us watch A Nightmare on Elm Street in the dark. I never told you how that fear stayed with me for months afterward. I took showers facing the showerhead with my eyes wide open. The water and soap would burn my eyes, but at least I was prepared to escape from Freddy Kreuger’s steely grasp.
You, Laurie, Erin, and Amanda held a going away party for me the day before I moved. We had a water fight in Laurie’s backyard. There’s a picture of us taken that day, drenched from the water balloons. The five of us holding you up like you were in a Broadway show. Your mouth was open mid-laugh. I never told you I thought you would be a comedian. I can still hear your laugh echo in my memory, even after all this time. The four of you signed the back of a shirt with dairy cows on the front and our town name written underneath. I never told you I wore that shirt practically every day my first summer away from all of you. It was washed so many times that the back of the shirt no longer carried all of your names.
I spoke to you through email when we were in our early 20’s. We exchanged short pleasantries, and you told me you were majoring in business. We hadn’t spoken to each other since we were 11. Through a few emails, the gap of time was bridged, and it was as if we had never been apart.
Not long afterward, I got an email from Laurie, telling me you passed away. I didn’t know you were sick at all. The words became blurred by my tears. My three and four-year-old daughters couldn’t understand why I was so sad. I told them I had lost a special friend, who had gotten very sick.
If you were still here… I should have… would have… could have… asked you more often to tell you how much I missed seeing your face. I would have asked you more questions and checked in with you more often. I never got to tell you how I wished I was a part of your family. Your parents were so good to me. My parents and I never laughed together the way your family did. Even now, I remember how much love I felt within the walls of your home.
You live on in my memories. Until we meet again, my friend.
Write a Letter
Remember to stay in touch with the people you cherish, especially the once-in-a-lifetime kind of friends. They are the type of friends you haven’t spoken to in years, but you can always pick up where you left off.
The greatest gifts to me have come in the form of a handwritten card or letter. I miss those days. My hope is that you will take a moment and send a letter, e-mail, or text to that person you wished you had kept in touch with. From what I have learned, they will be glad to hear from you.