I want to take this time to write about my best friend, Rochelle, who just had her birthday.
I met Rochelle almost twenty years ago on the first day of sixth grade. My best friends, Lorrie and Amanda, had just moved away a few weeks prior. It had been a long, lonely summer full of goodbyes. I started at a new school feeling completely lost.
I don’t remember what we said to each other that first day. I just know she was the only person not from my elementary school who talked to me that day. Almost nobody from my elementary school was in my classes, and all day I felt lonely. Then Rochelle turned around in her seat to talk to me and life felt worth it again, heh.
I loved her immediately. Neither of us was great at learning to sew, so while the other kids had to watch a boring movie on human development, we gossiped in the other room while decorating our crappy cloth tote bags. It was in that room she told me all about her childhood, what it was like to be Rochelle, and we just discussed everything. It was lovely. It was the best afternoon I ever had at that school.
I spent much of my teen years on the phone with Rochelle. We talked several times a week on the phone. All my secrets. All our opinions on people, boys, music, all of it. I think she was the one person I never, ever lied to. And I lied a lot when I was young.
What really struck me about Rochelle was how much she cared about other people. She thought of others even when they never thought of her. Those who thought of her were also constantly on her mind and in her heart. Anybody else would be easily wounded, but she would hang in there and be strong and warm. She had a way about her that made you feel fiercely, fiercely loved and never, ever ashamed of who you are.
I’m crying now as I write this, heh. I really miss her. It’s hard to really make someone else feel loved when they live on the other side of the world.
When I moved away from my hometown in 1998, I tried really hard to stay in contact with Rochelle. I don’t know how it happened, but one day we just stopped calling each other. I felt like everyone from my hometown forgot me as I started a new school and tried to make new friends. A few years later we were in college together and saw each other every once in a while. For maybe a year or two, we were close again. Then she got married and had children and I, separately, went through a downward spiral for a couple of years where I contacted nobody.
At the zenith of my downward spiral, there Rochelle was. Her husband was deployed and she had adorable twin babies. She slowly brought me out of my shell, just before she moved away to Texas.
Oh thank God for Rochelle. My life would be a nightmare without her in it to crack me up, love me, and laugh with me. We spent the next few years calling each other on the phone every once in a while.
One day she called me up with the news.
It happened so fast. Strong Army wife she was now, she packed up all her things, husband and newborn in tow, high-tailed it to Maryland where we had a few weeks to say goodbye to her as a group.
Upon her leaving I tried to stay strong like she wanted me to. I even said, “See you later.” That’s the kind of wording used on deployments instead of goodbye. We say it with a smile.
The minute she was gone, I dissolved into tears like a kicked puppy.
That was about two years ago. I hope to see her home by her next birthday.
For now though, all I can say is this:
Rochelle, you are the bomb diggity. Xoxox Thank you so much for being born! I miss and love you more than words. You make the world around you glow, inside and outside, and I can’t wait for you to come home.