When I departed from my island home after graduation, I also left some fantastic friends in Alameda, California. After my commencement, a favorite uncle from Colorado came to California for a visit and asked me to tag along with his family when they returned. While on vacation, he and his family took me on a two-week excursion around the state. With its rugged beauty from majestic peaks, to colorful wildflower meadows, to relaxing hot springs, and its desert prairies with amazing sunsets, I fell in love with the state, and like my family before me, I decided to make Colorado my home.
Still, I hated to leave my childhood friends behind. One amazing friend that I met in high school was a year older than me, and Debbie made my high school years extra special. She had a wicked sense of humor, and she always made everyone laugh and feel welcome. Most days, we laughed, hung out, and had some unbelievable adventures, even at school.
When my parents separated and went through a divorce, she was my rock and my sister. It was comforting to have someone in my corner that would let me rant, or cry, or just talk. My big sister took care of me and offered love and support. If not for Debbie, I am not sure I would have made it through my senior year. Leaving her behind was so hard, but we stayed in touch across the miles.
Once I found my own place, my friend decided to send me some unconventional mail. One day, as I came through my door after a long day at work, I noticed that I had a package from my chum. My landlord had placed it on the antique dresser in the living room. Smiling, I was curious to discover what she had sent me. Grabbing the small box and my keys, I plopped down in the rocking chair. Using my house key, I scored along the tape, so I could peel back the layers of paper and unearth the surprise she had sent me. Reaching in, I pulled out a roll of toilet paper. Laughing, I noticed writing, and as I began to unroll the “stationary,” I found that Debbie had written her letter directly on the roll of toilet paper. Her letter was a “normal” letter for she detailed her latest escapades and wanted to hear about the latest events in my life. It was as if writing an epistle on toilet paper was a normal, everyday occurrence. I saved that roll for the longest time, but I am sad to say that through all of my moves, it got lost in the shuffle.
But of course, in typical Debbie fashion, she did not stop there. My next letter would have raised eyebrows, for it was quite risqué. After purchasing a Playgirl magazine, my friend sent me another message on homemade stationery. The letter, or maybe it was the pictures, were quite naughty. It was hard to focus and remember, and it took me several readings to discover what she had written. Sadly, that work of art also fell victim to time and several changes in location.
After moving to Colorado, I only saw my dear friend one more time on a trip to California, four years after I ran away from my island home. Although we stayed in touch for many years, over time we drifted apart with the everyday responsibilities of family and work. Eventually, we even lost contact for a time. Still, with a little magic and a pinch of luck, we found each other on facebook. Once again, we picked up where we left off and had many chats on the phone and sent our new version of letter writing through messages on faceback.
One summer, she came out to visit her aunt who lived in Colorado; however, the small ranching town was about 130 miles from where I lived. She called me and told me she was in Colorado and hoped we could visit. Until she called, I didn’t know she had made her way to my home state and was thrilled to hear her voice and realize that she was only about two hours away from me. We tried to find time to get together; however, her family had plans, and I was enrolled in college classes and had deadlines coming due. We fussed about all the distractions. Finally, we decided we would get together on the next trip.
That next trip never came. Last year, my friend discovered she had cancer, and on May 18, 2018, my sweet sister flew on angel wings and left this world behind. Wish, I could go back in time and erase all the distractions. If I knew then, what I know now, I would have cut class or pulled an all-nighter. I would have found a way to see her one more time.
So I discovered one harsh reality. In this world, time has never been a given, so hold your loved ones tight. Find time for spur of the moment adventures, and never forget, to tell those you hold dear, just how they brighten your world.