This is my memorial to my dear friend.
July 28, 1969 – December 27, 2000
To my friend Michelle,
We met at a time when we both needed a friend. You were dealing with Matthew’s death and I was dealing with the end of my marriage. I remember the night we met at the Banque, you taught me how to dance and introduced me to my first friends in a new town. From the time we met we were inseparable and before long, Justin and I were moving into your house with you, your beautiful two daughters and the world’s coolest dog, Sadie.
We became an instant family and our children bonded like they’d always known one another. Your daughters accepted us and loved my son instantly. I remember Ashley, your oldest, taking care of Justin like he was her baby . It was so adorable. The day we moved in was Ashley’s first day of kindergarten and we watched her get onto the bus for the first time and then hugged our younger ones, Justin and Kayla. I remember your Doberman, Sadie. She was the most beautiful and sweetest dog I’d ever been around. I have a picture of Justin sleeping on top of her. LOL
We were the same age yet you seemed so much wiser than me. You were like my big sister, teaching me things that would help me throughout my life. You took care of me when I needed it and I defended you when you needed it. (the bar fight LOL). We talked and played cards during the days and you shared with me your feelings about losing Matthew and my heart broke for you. When you fell in love for the first time after losing him, I was so happy for you. We planned your wedding and Sam moved in with us. You were the best cook I’ve ever known and you taught me (or tried to teach me) how to cook, clean (properly), even how to vacuum with your Rainbow vacuum that you loved so much.
You taught me a lot about being a single mom. You showed me how to put on makeup the way you did it and we went shopping for all new stuff. You were addicted to Clinique makeup. You showed me how to curl my hair “just right” LOL. You taught me how not to let men use me or hurt me and how to just have fun without worrying about tomorrow at a time when I needed just that. Some of my favorite memories were getting our nails done, and getting all prettied up to go to the Banque several times a week. I remember driving and singing Shania Twain songs OVER and OVER. Trying to get you to line dance, but you never would because you hated it LOL. Going to taco bell and 7-eleven for chili hot dogs after the bars closed. I remember the after hours bar and the themed hotel across the street from the Banque. You gave me space but also advice as I met guy after guy. LOL You kept me safe while I “sewed my oats”.
During the years we lived together, we laughed, we cried, and we celebrated our friendship and our children on a daily basis. I’ve never shared so much with a person before or since. I remember we decided that you were my older sister reincarnated (who died at birth) and that you really loved my mom as she loved you. You had the biggest heart and all you ever wanted was to love someone and have them love you back. It seemed like so many took from you and you never once complained. You gave everything you had to whoever needed it. I couldn’t stand to see people take advantage of you and I tried to protect you as much as I could but your big bigheartedness and generosity and need to love and be loved was bigger than anything I’ve seen
You loved your girls with all your heart, you were a wonderful mother. You loved and cared for them and reminded them on a daily basis how much their daddy loved them and how he was still a part of their everyday life. Nobody would ever take his place. You had his memories all over the house and it was bittersweet. Your heart was still broken yet you kept going on for the sake of your children and for your new found love.
There were so many things that happened that I wanted to “fix” for you…but I was unable. You amazed me with your strength and your ability to “bounce back” after things fell apart. When Sam left, I thought you’d fall part but you didn’t. You picked yourself up and loved your girls and kept things going for them.
I remember our trip to Florida, you, me and Justin, and how you helped me so much with the purpose of the trip, thank you sweetie! We went to the beach, snuck into the “donor’s” workplace and snapped pics…hahaha We were talking about moving there but never did. We visited with some of my old friends, it was so much fun. I still have the t shirt you bought me, in fact I’m wearing it now. It’s my oldest and most comfortable shirt!
After I moved out, you rented that townhouse next to mine, remember? And then our lives started to go in separate ways a little. Our friendship and love for each other was as strong as ever but you met someone and I met someone and I got pregnant and although we didn’t see each other on a daily basis, nothing ever changed between us. I remember you had moved in with your new boyfriend who became Jourdan’s daddy, and I had just had my second child, Tyler. You were the first person to babysit him for me besides my mom because I didn’t trust anyone else. I remember you telling me how beautiful he was and how much he looked like Justin. We hugged goodbye and held on a little longer than usual... That was the last time I saw you in person.
We got back in touch after you moved to Michigan and me to Washington and you sent me pictures of you pregnant and thought you were fat. But you weren’t, you were beautifully pregnant! The very last letter I received from you had pictures of your new daughter (Jourdan) and of you and Ashley and Kayla at an outside concert.. I couldn’t believe how big they had gotten. Justin was still asking about Ashley and Kayla and they were still asking about him. They were so close.
I remember talking to you on the phone and both of us talking about how weird it was that our how much our children had changed and had grown so fast! That would be the last time I heard your voice.
I wrote you in a Christmas Card in 2000 but never heard back from you. I called but the number had been changed. I kept writing but you didn’t write back. Over the next seven years I have searched for you everywhere, even hiring someone to help me find you. I couldn’t for the life of me figure out where you went or why you didn’t keep in touch with me. It’s just not like you. It felt weird, something didn’t feel right and there was an empty space in my heart and in my life that is still here today. I never gave up looking for you. Periodically I kept searching for you on the internet, to no avail.
Then one day recently, I found Kayla online. She is so grown up, 17 now but when I saw her face I knew it was her. She may have grown up but cute little face was still the same. I emailed her to ask where you were and how to reach you. She told me you’d passed away in a car accident. It was just a few days after Christmas in 2000. That was why you never responded to my last letters and my Christmas card that year.
When I first heard the news I was in shock. I didn’t want to believe it. I kept thinking, this has to be a mistake…Then all I could do was cry and question why someone so special could be taken from us so early and tragically. How could someone so young and beautiful and someone who had survived so much during her life be taken away? It doesn’t make sense. You worked so hard to get to where you were, and even though life is never perfect, you seemed happy the last time we spoke.
There have been so many times over the years that I’ve wanted to talk to you, wondering how you were, how the girls were and wanting to tell you about my life with my sons. How the things you taught me were what got me through the tough times and how our memories made me smile when I got down.The most fun I’ve ever had in my life were the years that I was with you. I have so many pictures of our adventures together. Our days at the bar, our trip to Florida, so many memories that I cherish. I just can’t believe you are gone.
I’ll never have another friend like you. Related or not, you were and are my sister in spirit. You are so special and important to me and so many others. You made such a positive impact on my life. I don’t think I ever thanked you for all that you did for me and for the friendship that we shared. Maybe it’s too late now but I just want you to know how much I love you and how grateful I was for everything you did for me and my son. I hope that you are with Matthew and that you are finally at peace and happy. I will never forget you and I will never stop missing you. I love you sweetie.