On Giants' Shoulders

Monday, June 26, 2006

So Long ,Terry

When I was in high school my best friend at school, Terry, and I were crazy about Agatha Christie mysteries. We used to talk over plots and fantasize about solving mysteries ourselves. Then at the end of high school Terry turned into a mystery. She moved away and, although she went to nursing school in the same town where I went to college, I saw her only intermittently. Then when I got back from Christmas break my sophomore year I discovered that she'd gotten married and left school. When I had seen her in November she hadn't even mentioned that she was dating anyone. I caught up with her once more senior year, but then she disappeared again. From time to time since we got internet services I've tried "googling her", to no avail. I tried again tonight, and found her, or rather, I found her obituary. She died the day after my birthday, in Vermont, in a town I've driven through regularly over in the past decade. Only I never knew she was there.

She'd changed her name, or rather gone back to her original first name. She'd never gone to a high school reunion. She apparently never got in touch with any of her old friends. Admittedly, I wouldn't have been as easy to find as some because none of my family lives in that town anymore. However, we had mutual friends who knew where I was, and since both my mother and my sister have died in recent years, my name has been in the newspaper she would have been purchasing at least twice in the last six years. So her finding me was a lot more likely than me finding her.

I guess she didn't want to. I guess I wasn't as good a detective as I'd thought I'd be.

Terry was my very first friend in a new school. She was the one I walked from the bus with every afternoon. I used to walk her to the end of her road and then walk back to the elementary school where I caught my second bus. On those walks we talked and talked about all sorts of things, but often about Agatha Christie mysteries. I'll always treasure puzzling over the lastest Agatha Christie (there were still new ones coming out in those years)together. However, there were other memories as well. I'll never forget the night that we argued theology in French in Mr. Whitney's kitchen (I was arguing for a miraculous feeding of the loaves and fishes, she was arguing for a miracle of sharing). I'll never forget sitting in front of her in geometry class and getting a note saying that her mother had just had a new baby (we had only recently found out that her mother had remarried) and her embarassment over the fact. I'll never forget how pretty her prom dress was and how pleased she was to be going. I'll never forget how much fun she had putting Summer Blonde in her hair after she'd moved out of her mother's house. I'll also never forget the day that our friend Ellen and I helped her pack up her stuff to move out of that house. It was a rainy, eerie, creepy sort of day and there was an eerie creepy sort of air about the whole experience. I'll never forget the cute nurse's cap she got to wear as a nurse in training (it was pleated, nothing at all like the nurse's caps I was familiar with). I'll never forget her showing me around her dorm, which had amenities (like an elevator) that mine didn't have. There were happy times and there were not so happy times. Every time it looked like her life had taken a happier turn, it seemed to turn dark again.

There were reasons why Terry never wanted to go home again. Many of them I suspect will never be fully known now. I wish that I hadn't been so associated with a time she wanted to forget. I really wish we could have known each other as grownups.

I hope that before she died she found her way to faith, but I really don't know whether she did or not. So, I'll commend her to God's mercy and ask you to do the same.


At 6:25 AM, Blogger Karen E. said...

Yes, I'll pray for her, Liz. How sad.


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