My "day" really began the night of the 16th. I had just returned from work to the hotel, being the only one who would remain on-site for the final day, when my BlackBerry vibrated wildly, demanding my attention. On the other end of the phone was one of my new hires, who had left the site less than 30 minutes earlier, had managed to get 7 miles down the road toward his Suffolk, VA home before his 1994 Mercedes began to overheat. I spent much of the evening working with him to get his car to the shop and him back into a hotel for the night.
Meanwhile, I was fighting a feeling in my gut about a friend who was embarking on a long weekend journey down memory lane. I just felt queezy about it, and could not shake the feeling. But it is a necessary journey and I tried to be supportive. So, between the two issues and of course, my typical sleep patterns, I did not sleep much at all that night.
The morning dawned and my feeling of concern was only stronger, but I had to just put it in the back of my mind and set about getting my co-worker from his hotel and getting over to the work site. We wrapped up our work shortly before noon and, having been assured by the Mercedes mechanic, that the car was still not fixed, and they were continuing to determine the cause of its maladies, we decided the best plan of action was to leave his car in Annapolis, MD at the shop and for me to drive him home (in my Hyundai), or at least to Newport News, VA where his wife works.
We shared a pleasant ride home, and I dropped him off in front of his wife's office shortly before 4PM. I then headed back home to Gloucester, where, at about 6PM, I greeted my cats who had held down the fort from their garage hideouts....and I continued to worry.
Since sleeping is out of the question when I am worried, I set about being productive. I weeded my front garden, did a little work for the real job, took a look at my eBay sales and prepared for shipping tomorrow. As darkness fell, I decided to tackle my eBay storage room which has been sorely neglected of late and was in desperate need of attention. Box by box, item by item, I coaxed the room into shape and finally all that was left was a medium sized box of unknown contents.
I opened the box and discovered it contained old pictures, and letters from years gone by....from my teen years. And, as one might suspect, I was taken off course in my cleaning endeavor, opting to sit and rifle through the box. I read letters from old friends, family, and boyfriends. I laughed at some of the proclamations of undying love, and forever friendships. And I laughed at some of the absurd topics we spent our time discussing.
One letter I opened was addressed to me when I was at FSU. It was from a high school friend who was attending MIT. He sent me a HUGE blue sheet of paper on which he had drawn hundreds of snowflakes...he thought I might like some of their MA snow in FL! (Thanks George!) Another letter was from a friend I'd left behind when I moved from England back to the US. Michael was determined to give me ALL of the important news, such as one of our mutual friends who "got spoken to" by a neighbor lady for hitting her twins...and assuring me that the nightly gathering under the light pole continued, though I was missed by all of the friends.
Finally, I opened a sheet of note paper, folded once in half. There were many such notes in the box, as we apparently had a habit of writing letters to each other, even though we saw each other every day in high school. This one was from my friend Kelly, who passed away at the tender age of 27 from a brain tumor. I immediately recognized the orange ink with which she had written the poem contained on that paper. The poem was one she wrote when we were in 10th grade. I recall being very embarrassed when she read it out loud in class, but I kept the copy that she gave me, for more than 30 years now.
"I have this very special friend
Some people think she's strange
But she can make other people laugh
Even when it rains.
She's always bright and cheery,
Her face lit with a smile,
To rid yourself of sadness,
Go talk with her a while.
For she can cheer the saddest up,
And make the gloomy glad,
She will make you wonder,
Why you were ever mad.
To all her friends she is like
the sun on a cloudy day.
In January she makes it seem
As though it were almost May.
She has her faults, like everyone,
Some people think she's fruity,
But all her friends know better than that,
That happy person called Judy."
Well, the feeling in my gut lingers, and I will go through another day without benefit of sleep, but a few hours spent in a box of memories was good for me. Now, if I can just live up to Kelly's faith in me from all those many years ago ...