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My friend on 22nd street
I was crying that is what I remember so vividly about November 5, 2001. I was sitting in the chair at that funeral home and I was crying. I looked around and as I looked Ms. Rosalyn my mouth went dry. I couldn’t believe that this would be the last time I would see her. I was truly in a state of denial and I was a mess so you can only imagine how I felt when I heard my name called. “Now to pay her last respects to Ms. Rosalyn Brown, her friend, Mia,” said the little old man that was standing in front of us all. I slowly got up; I wasn’t sure what to say so I just spoke from my heart.
“Ms. Rosalyn was a dear friend of mine, even though I’ve only known her for about six months. She was extremely smart and loving and I will never forget her.” That was all I could bring myself to say, because as soon as I uttered those words I blacked out.
“Maybe she won’t see me if I hide in these bushes,” that’s what I thought when hiding from Big Jamie. Big Jamie is the biggest girl in the world, well maybe not the world but at least she bigger than all the girls in the fifth grade at Harriet’s Middle School Academy for Girls.
I had accidentally hit her with the basketball during P.E. and she sworn that she would give me a good pounding after school. I’m hiding because I CAN’T FIGHT THAT GIRL! I’m so small, so weak, she would kill me. There’s Big Jamie now, she had to be about 5”5” and she probably weight about 145 pounds that’s about twenty pounds bigger than me. Suddenly I felt a tap on my shoulder as just as Big Jamie was passing the very bush I was in. I turned around to a short, wrinkled face, bright skinned lady with long white hair. “Young lady who are you hiding from” She said with a distinct and powerful voice. Just then Big Jamie turned around; I put my finger to my mouth asking her to please be quiet. She raised her eyebrow and said to Big Jamie “Little girl you get away from my bushes, NOW!” Big Jamie stuck her tongue out and ran off. The old lady reaches out her to me and helped me up. Before she could say anything I ran in the opposite direction for my house. That was the last day of school and Big Jamie would be going away to baseball camp for three weeks, so I wouldn’t have to worry about her until then. I thought about that old lady all night, I felt guilty because I didn’t even say thank you. That was so rude. So before I went to sleep that night I made it my mission to say thank you to that dear sweet lady.
As I approached the huge door I felt as big as a mouse inside and I wanted to turn around and go back home but I had skipped lunch to say thank you and I wasn’t going to back down now. I knock on the door the sound of my knocking seemed to bounce of the walls of that castle of hers and it vibrated inside of me. The same old lady came to the door, she was a lot taller than I remember, her makeup was fresh, and she had a smile on her face. “Hi ma’am I don’t know if you remember me but my name is Mia. I just wanted to say thank you for helping me yesterday.” As I turned to walk away she said “I thought you might come back, I knew you had to be a sweet little girl, if you would like to come in, I have some freshly baked cookies and milk in the kitchen.” As soon as I hear the word cookies my stomach begins to rumble, it rumbles so loud that she hears it, she smiles and says “I’ll take that as a yes.”
We ate all the cookies and they were delicious. “Why were you hiding in my bushes yesterday?” “Well, I was hiding from Big Jamie, she is the biggest girl in the world and I accidentally hit her with a basketball during P.E. and she promise to kill me.” I said at first nervously then quickly. “Well all you have to do is give her one good one across the lips.” She said as she hopped out of the chair and started bouncing around like an old boxer. I laughed of course because this lady was crazy. After a while she stopped out of breath “Whew I’m too fat to be doing all of this moving.” She sat down and we just talked the rest of the day.
Two weeks had gone by and I spent most of my time wake with Ms. Rosalyn. We would listen to her old Billie Holiday records and I kind of like that old lady music as Ms. Rosalyn calls it. Everything was going good until June 19th that was the day Big Jamie came home from baseball camp. I was walking to Ms Rosalyn’s house and then I saw a big shadow step in front of me, as I looked up my heart seemed to drop to the bottoms of my feet and I had a sudden urge to cry. “Well, well look what we have here” Big Jamie exclaimed as her friends laughed. ”You thought I forgot didn’t you, but you should have known that I never forget”. She walked up to me beating her fist into her hand. She swung, I ducked, she missed, and swung my fist, and it connected to her face she dropped and so did the mouths of all her big ugly friends. When she hit the ground I felt like David when he struck the giant Goliath. She got up and ran stepped aside. I held my head up high and continued on my trip to Ms. Rosalyn’s house. I got to her house quickly and as I walk in her house I called out her name to let her know that I was in the house. However I didn’t hear a response, just silence. I walked to her room because I knew she had to be at home. When I walked in her room I found her on the floor and she was unconscious. I rushed to her “Ms. Rosa, wake up!” I yelled repeatedly then I ran to the phone and called for help.
Ms. Rosalyn was taken to the hospital, I rode in the ambulance with her, my mother and father met us there. I was crying because I was so scared, she cold die, not now, I need her so much. The doctors immediately started to work on her, we were told to wait in the waiting room. Hours passed and daddy had to go back to work, so me and mother sat and watched television as we waited for word from the doctor. This lady came into the room, she was tall and bright skinned she looked just like Ms. Rosalyn, but she didn’t have kids, well at least she never told me she had kids. My mother began talking to her, “What a way to spend my vacation.” She said tiredly. I was very curious now “Who are you waiting on”. “My mother Rosalyn, this is the second time in two months and I’m so sick of running back and forth.” “I found Ms. Rosalyn she is my best friend, my name is Mia.” I said upset because she was talking about my friend. “How old are you? You couldn’t be any older than my daughter.” She said. “I just turned eleven years old last month” I said proudly. “Why in earth would you want to hang around an old lady like my mother?” she asked. “Because she is my friend, she has taught me so much, and she is not old she is younger than you in spirit.” I said annoyed. The doctor finally came in “Kelis, you mother is stable she had a slight stroke and she injured her hip from the fall. But she will be okay.” Dr. Johns tried to explain, “You can come and see if you like, she is wake.” We walked into the room to find Ms. Rosalyn lying in her bed; she looked so fragile and weak. She woke up when she heard us walk in the room, and she tried to speak but before she could speak her daughter started talking about how she was going to put her in a nursing home because she couldn’t keep talking off from work. Ms. Rosalyn didn’t want to but I talked her into it by promising to visit her as much as I could. She agreed and went to sleep, my mother had to go back to work, and I decided to stay with Ms. Rosalyn. Kelis and I had time to discuss what Ms. Rosalyn and I had been doing the past few weeks and she must have laughed until her eyes watered when I told her about Ms. Rosalyn teaching me how to fight. I learned a lot about Ms. Rosalyn from Kelis, she told me how Ms. Rosalyn had been married for almost forty years to a man named Christopher Brown, and that she had two children but one died when she was a baby. Eventually I understood why Kelis and Ms. Rosalyn weren’t that close, after Kelis graduated from high school Ms. Rosalyn wanted her to attend a local college, however this was not Kelis’ plan and this caused them to constantly bump heads. The months passed and I kept my promise to visit Ms. Rosalyn, in fact I went to see her every day. I would read to her everyday and we would talk about how Big Jamie was now my friend and how she won’t let anybody tease me. We would watch television together, we became even closer friends. Even Ms. Rosalyn and Kelis were getting along better and everything was looking a little better for my dear friend that is until the late part of October.
It was October 28th that’s the day the trouble began. I walked into Ms. Rosalyn’s room and she was in the restroom, she didn’t sound too good. She came out of the restroom and she said that she was spitting up blood and told me to get the nurse. I did, and the nurse and the doctor immediately came to help. She was taken to the hospital, who said that she had a bleeding ulcer and there was nothing that they could do to help her. The next day worsens, she stops speaking, and she went into a deep sleep. When my mother came and got me out of school early that day I knew, something had gone terribly wrong. When I got home I was told that Ms. Rosalyn had died in her sleep. I must have cried for what seemed like days, how could my best friend be dead?
After the funeral
We had the repast at her home, I just sat there emotionless. Kelis came up to me with a box in her hand, and quietly said “She wanted you to have this” and walked away. I opened it inside there was an envelope, some pictures of Ms. Rosalyn and me, her Billie Holiday records, and her favorite pair of earrings. I waited until I got home to open the envelope inside it was a letter from Ms. Rosalyn.
My Dearest Mia,
I’m so sorry that I have to leave you like this and I just wanted to say thank you for giving me the best last few months of my life. I love you so much Mia and I want you to be strong. Promise me that you won’t be sad, and that you’ll remember the good times. Be a good girl ,Mia. Remember to listen to your mother, always tell her that you love her and know that she will always love you. Even though I can’t be with you physically, I will always be in your heart. I love you forever.
That was seven years ago and I have never forgotten my first real best friend, Ms. Rosalyn.