Monday, March 23, 2009

Monday Moment #11

Today's Monday Moment is in memory of my dear friend Stacy (1973-1985).

The night before, I was talking to her on the phone. Just the night before.

I was her best friend. I was the one who should’ve known.

But we were just chatting. About normal stuff—silly stuff—like getting back to school and hairbrushes. Her hair was crazy pretty; long and thick and wavy. I loved to play with it. Other girls were jealous of it. And of her green eyes, too. Some people didn’t think they were real—the color of them—but it didn’t matter. They were hers.

I was so confused when she didn’t show up at school the next day. She’d missed the whole week before and she was excited to get back. I couldn’t wait for her to be back. It wasn’t the same without her. It felt like I hadn’t seen her forever.

Everyone kept asking me, “Where’s Stacy?”

They asked me because I was her best friend. I was the one who should know.

But I couldn’t answer them. I had the same question.

Even when my parents showed up in the middle of the school day, and I knew because they did, something was wrong—really wrong—I never once thought something was wrong with her.

Principal Taylor wouldn’t tell me anything when he pulled me out of class, only that my parents were waiting outside to take me home. He left me alone at my locker—alone with my racing thoughts and the quiet of the hallway. It was empty and silent and scary, a way it had never been before. My heart beat knew. Knew life would never be the same once I walked out the school doors. I just didn’t know why.

I didn’t know until I stood there on the concrete steps. I didn’t know until my parents said the words, “Stacy killed herself.” I didn’t know I’d never be the same again.

I can still feel the word No tear at my throat over and over again. It was the only word I had. The only word I could say as my heart and head did everything they could to believe it was a lie.

I was her best friend. I was the one who should have known.

That was over 20 years ago. I was thirteen, but moments were seared into my brain, including the date--March 23.

Even though sharing this piece of writing makes my insides tremble, it feels appropriate given the day's date. I wrote this not too long ago during a retreat. The amazing Patricia Gauch gave the following free-writing prompt: Select someone you loved but lost. Tell a teacher whom you trust about her. Use a scene you can’t forget, engaging first what you saw, smelled, touched, then what you felt.

Now, I don't know if I did exactly what Patti wanted, but it's what came out. (Feel free to use the prompt yourself.)

But for our Monday Moment #11, my thought is a bit different. That particular experience in my life, the loss of my best friend, was transformative. I was never the same person after March 23, 1985. And, as is the case for most of us, we have all experienced such a loss, and loss can come in many forms. But in my situation, Stacy's passing was a marking of time, with a definite before and after. Some of our characters have certainly experienced loss and others maybe not. Either way, it should say a lot about who they are.

Has your character experienced a transformative loss, a time that marks a definite "before" and "after"?


Martha Brockenbrough said...

Wow, Jolie. What a horrible thing to experience--I know what you mean about your parents showing up and school and how that feels. That's a really powerful piece of writing, too. I think it's just the emotion that makes for books that really show us how painful and confusing life can be. I'm so sorry you had to go through that, and so sorry for Stacy.


Kjersten said...

Ditto Martha's Wow, Jolie. A painful and poignant story. Amazingly well written. I feel so sad for both your 12-year-old self and for Stacy. You got right to the heart.

Thanks for sharing.

Cuppa Jolie said...

Martha and Kjersten - Thanks so much for your kind words and for commenting. It was a little scary to share since it's such a heavy topic, but something compelled me to.

Shelli (srjohannes) said...

thank you so much for sharing this personal memory. How awful :( Its a beautiful piece.

Kirby Larson said...

You are generous and brave, Jolie, to share something so close to the heart. You have honored Stacy's memory in a lovely way today.

Cuppa Jolie said...

Thank you, Shelli and Kirby!

holly cupala said...

Jolie, this breaks my heart. You've written it so beautifully and powerfully, I felt all of the emotions right along with you. I'm so sorry for you and for Stacy and grateful that you shared something so moving and personal. In my life, loss has illuminated art, and art has given loss meaning. You've conveyed that so vividly.