On Sunday, September 27, 1981 I called my close high school friend , “Janie” (not her real name) to check in with her. I had not spoken with her in a couple of weeks. I had graduated high school three months earlier and while I was happy to be out of high school, I did miss seeing the friends I had left behind. They were seniors now, their last year before exiting school and entering the next phase of their lives. So, it was her uncle who, after I asked to speak with her, wanted to know who I was and what I wanted. I told him who I was and explained I was a friend of hers from school. What he said next really stunned me, paralyzed me actually. He told me she died the night before, a car accident, and the date the funeral would be held.
For the first year following her death I could not get over it. Whenever a song or group that we liked came on the radio I felt the pain physically in my gut. I always remembered her birthday and the date of her death two days later as the years went by. Eventually, she faded to the background as I started a career, entered and exited relationships, got married and started a family. It was while I was driving to work one morning in the early 2000’s, after both of my children were on the school bus, that I received a message from her. The reason she chose that moment was mysterious but effective.
Shortly after that I would begin writing what I could recall from our brief school years together. At first it was just a few memories, the obvious ones like the favorite band that brought us together. Then the little things like passing notes in school, boys, what she wore, her hair. The more I started to write down the details the more I recalled. Then the tears came and the heartbreak all over again. I could not believe some of the little and big things, nuances, her sense of humor and other memories that I had forgotten or suppressed over the years.
I turned it into a short story in 2014. ‘Sweet Dreams’ was inspired by our friendship and my own spiritual journey up to that point.
I still feel her around me sometimes. I have wondered how she would have reacted to the grunge movement in the early 1990’s that ushered in Alternative rock. She may have said it’s all rock and roll. I wondered if she would be a drummer in a band as she always dreamed of and what she would think about other women rockers. In 1981 there was Debbie Harry, Joan Jett and the Go-Go’s. Would she have been among them one day?
What I know for sure is that there is a reason for everything. The answers are not always offered up. Maybe it’s just meant to be a mystery. Whatever the reason, she is still in my heart and always will be.