This is going to be a good day, I thought, as I got ready for school. It was one of those blue-sky days where it seems nothing could go wrong. Suddenly my whole world came crashing down on me. My sister came back from school with tears in her eyes. “I’m so sorry” was all she said. She pulled me into a hug and then “Bettie had a heart attack and died last night. I came home to tell you”. My mind whirled in a hundred different directions. Bettie? No, it couldn’t be. Your friend wasn’t supposed to die in 8th grade. My brain went numb and I couldn’t think properly I wanted to cry but I couldn’t, there was a lump in my throat. “I’ve got to go see my friends” I managed to mumble. As I stumbled over to school, I thought back to the night before as I have countless times since. Bettie was fine, wasn’t she? We had gone our church movie night together. We talked a bit at first, and then the movie started. She had gone home early with a headache. Oh, I should have spent more time with her. If only I had known. When I finally got to the school, I saw my friends standing together hugging. I rushed toward them and was pulled into their circle of embrace. That’s when it hit me. This was real. Bettie had died. A wave of grief and tears surged over me, and I pulled my friends closer. I needed them there with me. The loudspeaker came on and they announced that our class could go to the library and absences would not be counted. We sat together for over an hour. I can’t describe it, but we felt this enormous need to be with each other. We huddled together in small groups and just cried. Someone would get up every now and then, moving over to hug someone else. No one really said anything; we just hugged each other and cried. Eventually we stopped crying enough to say a few words. Someone found a bible and we passed it around sharing verses. When we were to overcome by tears to talk, we would just point to one and cry even harder. I’ll never forget that day. How we were in so much grief, but found such great love and need for each other that we never knew existed.
An Unforgettable Day
July 3, 2011