Saturday, May 7, 2016

It’s Just Part Of Life. Life. Death…and Mountain Dew!

I’ve led a pretty sheltered life.  My parents wanted to keep us busy & out of trouble.
My parents needn’t have worried – I was a good kid, as were all the kids I hung around …we maybe were a bit ornery but we were good kids….and FUN!

I’ve always thought that I was really fortunate because the friends I made as a young child, are still my friends today. I have lifelong friends…friends that I met BEFORE Kindergarten (Paulette Goodfriend) and friends that I met IN Kindergarten, Anna Holmquist,  Becky Hoitinga, and Cari Bliklen. I feel we have a special bond. Always near & dear to my heart…ALWAYS.
This is important to me because as we go about our lives, we tend to forget how quickly the years pass.

Grade school, high school, college, marriages, kids, work….life gets busy. We blink and 40 years have passed. 

It’s just part of life.
One of the things that I know is true – that come hell or high water (where the hell did that phrase come from?) I KNEW that either January 10th or May 6th I would be chatting with my lifelong friendthat’s what we did.  Every year from the day (almost) that telephones were invented. As if no time had passed at all – she was THAT kind of friend. Yes, there were times when we’d speak more frequently, kids being born or new family members – other family matters that seemed important only to us – but FOR sure on January 10th (Cari’s birthday) & May 6th, (my birthday) we’d be playing catch up....every year!
I wondered why I hadn’t heard from Cari yesterday. May 6, my birthday. She must’ve been busy- I get that…never did I think the reason was because she didn’t want to make the call. She couldn’t. My lifelong friend had passed away ….on my birthday.  
As I am waiting at Walgreen’s for my prescriptions to (oddly enough) keep me focused – I take out my phone. I open up Facebook and the very first thing that pops up is a posting from Betzi Bliklen.  As I read her posting  - I am in shock – I can’t believe what I am reading… it can’t be true. But NOW it makes sense.
Cari’s sister, Betzi, posted that Cari passed away. I am in shocked as I try to process that I have lost yet another friend that I love so much.  
THIS part of life sucks! 
It’s just so strange to me. I can’t help but think that timing is everything. The second ( REALLY AT THAT MOMENT) I open my phone Betzi had posted the sad news. I think Cari wanted me to know.
I’m missing my friend, trying to process this terrible news. My mind takes me back to grade school. Ornery, sweet (damn it) kids being kids. I have a tons of Cari & Lisa stories. I was in awe of Cari. She was the classic ‘girl next door’ beautiful. Tall, thin, freckles (that she hated back then)..she was popular, kind, funny and all the boys loved her.. We’d hang out at her house. She lived north of McDowell. I lived south of McDowell. Although there were some that made a big deal of who lived on which side of McDowell, I never felt that they looked down on me. The Bliklen’s were the nicest people. Cari has a sister, Betzi, a few years older....that I thought was equally nice. I always wanted a sister, if I had one, I wanted her to be like Betzi. Betzi would always have a package of chocolate chips, the kind you put in cookies, (I’m laughing thinking of this) I thought she was the coolest person ever- how lucky that she had chocolate chips… and offered me some. WOW she was cool!! Cari would laugh at me for being so weird..she had a sister, I didn't. I wanted a sister and she'd tell me I could have Betzi. Betzi with the chocolate chips!
In 7th grade, Cari & I were alone in the hallway after school. We noticed the teacher’s lounge was open…so what did we do? We went in and helped ourselves to two bottles of Mountain Dew. YIKES! We were sly. We felt so terribly guilty that we decided to replace the Mountain Dew the very next day. We probably should’ve thought things through and waited until after school to put them back. But we didn’t want to keep the pop with us all day. We took it as soon as we got to school that morning and…yep -  we got caught putting it back in the teacher’s lounge. The Principal was "very disappointed" in us which made us feel even worse. Oddly, I quit drinking pop in 7th grade. I don’t know if that incident had anything to do with it.
When we were 10 years old, we would walk to Park Central. The main shopping mall. We’d walk up 3rd Ave and just have fun. It was a good 2 miles or so. We bought our very first 45’s together. Her taste in music was different from mine. She bought GET READY by RARE EARTH.  I’m buying Carpenter’s Close to You (this before Barry Manilow). Yep, different taste in music.
This is our Kindergarten class picture. Cari is in the star. Anna, Becky and myself are in the oval circles. Time passes so very quickly. 

So many stories, I loved her so. “Lifelong friend”? I’m not ready to say that because she is no longer on this earth that we are no longer friends. That doesn't seem fair. Because one passes away _ does that mean we are no longer friends?  “Lifelong friends” now sounds too short a time. Cari and I will be friends forever. She’s just in a happier, healthier place now....and I am heartbroken.

Cari, I love you, I miss you….be happy my friend.

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