Last night as we drove the 30 mile trip to the funeral home to say goodbye to my dear friend Carlene - I was feeling rather blue, missing my friend and thinking of so many regrets, what if's and should have’s. I began to feel sorry for myself; wishing I could have said goodbye. Why did I wait so long? why didn’t I just rush to her side? Regretting not taking the time to visit and show how much I cared for her. I began to feel so far apart and distant— like in a dream, I was being carried away to another time and place. My eyes were full of tears, as I tried to pull myself together and gain my composure, and yet, I could not help the feelings of awkwardness and shame. The ride to Lansing was quiet, Brian let me agonize my feelings to myself; I am sure he was unsure anything he said would not release a flood of emotions he was not ready to handle. A smart man, he knows when to comfort and what support is given in the silence- during the reflection of ones memories.
I hoped and prayed that she would somehow remember how much I really loved her. I began to question my friendship- what kind of friend does not stay in contact with one’s closest childhood friend? I really felt bad for what I had missed, and lost in our relationship, simply, by not really knowing my friend as a wife and mother. The years passed, we were busy in life, taking care of our families- never finding the time to enjoy each others families. We talked a few times over the years, meeting for lunch or a phone call; trying to play catch up to the years that separated our lives; always promising each other that we would make the time to get together and yet somehow never finding the time.
We at last arrived at the funeral home, my stomach was in knots- would her husband recognize me? Would he be overcome with grief and not know what to say? What could I say to him? Would her daughters remember me? Would they be mad at me? I had so many emotions running through my mind, and as we walked onto the sidewalk that day, I gazed at the garden bed and could not believe what I saw. God gave me a God wink from Carlene, God always answers our needs- even before we ask; we simply have to be looking for the opportunity to hear from him.
I stopped in my steps and shared what I saw with Brian, I could not believe it. We both were amazed, November 4th a time of year when mums are plentiful and summer flowers like the daisies are laid to rest- the season is finished for them they are long gone- and yet... here popping it's head out bright and perky is a daisy! A subtle reminder of our friendship and love.
Carlene was my oldest friend- I met her when I was in kindergarten 1966, a time of freedom and new ideas.; and yet, a fear among many Americans whose parents experienced the ravages of WWII era, was the cold war, and the fear of communism. Television was a new commodity in households across the nation, commercials were made about a possible nuclear war, using the daisy to capture the hearts and minds of the American people. Perhaps, because of this, mass media hype, daisies were a popular flower in the 60’s and consequently my favorite flower too! I remember when we were little girls, playing catch him, kiss him; picking a daisy and singing the popular rhyme- pulling a petal with each verse… he loves me, he loves me not… By 3rd grade we were inseparable best friends. We grew together and experienced many firsts; first lost tooth; brownies, girls scouts, first crushes, Girl Scout camping, youth trip, the first of our friends to own music records, and our first rock and roll concert- “Bob Segar,” our first encounter with Jesus was at a youth camp when we were 10 or 11.
I always thought we would go off to a big city and become the Laverne and Shirley of our generation; however- that was not to be. Carlene introduced me to Brian and my whole life changed directions. This young man followed me everywhere I went, I could not shake him. I began to think, what in the world did you do Carlene? But she knew. She always knew the right thing to do. She knew me better than I knew myself.
Carlene, and I separated a little more and more as Brian and my friendship grew. We always said we would be in each others weddings as maids of honor, but we continued to lose touch over the years in high school. Carlene developed a new set of friends, old classmates that were free to be carefree and young. I settled down, with Brian, ended up getting pregnant my junior year in high school. Life was tough, Carlene always stuck by my side- she threw a baby shower for me, and a bridal shower- she was faithful to me throughout high school. Brian and I ended up getting married shortly after high school. Carlene was my maid of honor; helping me plan everything- including the flowers, she helped me pick them out, lemon yellow, and lime green roses with beautiful daisy bouquets. I remember her coming to my side that day in the church getting ready, and as she walked in- she had a beautiful daisy tucked up in her hair. The sight of that flower in her hair made me smile- just like it does today- when I recall those fun days of carefree living. I thought it was such a whimsical fun thing to do. I will never forget her friendship and care. The daisy I saw last night reminded me of her. Carlene introduced me to my husband- without her, I would never have dated him. She always took care of me, I will forever be grateful for our friendship.
So many memories flooding through my mind, today I am grateful for our friendship and the reminders of his great love for me, in the gift of friendships and subtle reminders that he cares, even in the midst of our pain- he gave me a Godwink from Carlene and I will always remember how much she cared- thank you Carlene- when I needed you- I did not even have to ask- you were there. We will meet again my friend- so long- I will love you forever- I will like you always; forever and ever my good friend you will be…