Saturday, August 22, 2009

My Yearbook

I always felt them coming. I would be shuffling lunch bags and textbooks around in my locker while the heavy buzz of conversation echoed through the halls. Lockers slamming, feet hitting the floor, and forced laughter accompanied the strained faces of students rushing through the day. High school. A foundation for social learning that often crumbled under my feet.

But they never seemed to rush. They never seemed to try too hard. The sisters. The twins-- identical but yet completely different. Star was constantly animated and bursting with unrestrained energy. Angel was thoughtful, the rock her sister perched upon. They floated through the halls. Huddled together, they swapped secrets and we felt special because they always seemed to let us in on them.

Though they weren't conventional beauties and they didn't posses the edgy cool of the high school jet set, they were popular.

They were the kind of popular you didn't envy because you actually liked them and they liked you in return. They were genuinely nice in a place where nice usually got you nowhere. There were no, "Wow, I love your outfit," or "Hey, how are you?" only to snarl and roll their eyes as you walked away.

We weren't really friends. Then again, my life motto of "thriving in anonymity" didn't really lend itself to making a multitude of friends. That didn't stop me from observing them and sometimes wishing they were triplets and I was the third.


Some of you know I finally broke down and joined. I must confess that soon after I spent one very long night perusing profiles. A kid I used to babysit for. My old college roommate. The girl I detested in high school--the one I used to sit behind in Geometry and fantasize about tying her long stringy White Rain-smelling hair to the back of her chair--with double knots. The quiet drummer from English who penned song lyrics, skipped Steinbeck, and frequently starred in my adolescent dreams.

Profile after profile had me reliving my childhood, my teen years, my college years. And then I saw it. Her profile.

"I am now raising my two nephews after the passing of my sister Star from stage IV breast cancer. It has been a long and hard road for us all this last year, but we are surviving."

The twins had lost their Star.

I pushed myself back in my chair in disbelief. We had lost students over the years--but Star's death didn't seem real.

Breast cancer? She was so young. We are all so young. The cliche wore heavy on my shoulders, for who am I to stake a claim to youth?

But none of that matters, does it.

"Can you believe she's gone?" I typed furiously to one of the only friends I have kept in touch with since high school--one of my best friends.

The same disbelief washed over her. She immediately contacted Angel, Star's sister, and expressed her condolences.

"I have stage IV breast cancer," replied Angel. "I'm so worried about these boys."

Angel. Cancer.

But I still see them in the halls, their easy conversation and laughter trailing behind them. I see Star bent over her sister's desk, hands moving through the air as she acted out her latest adventure. Angel pushing up her glasses as she balanced her lunch tray. The sisters, arms wrapped around each other, grinning and posing all over my yearbook.

My memories of high school seemed forever untouched. Our youth was as eternal as the images in my yearbook. The promises of what was to come were so alive, so vibrant, so real.

Is thirty or so years long enough to live? I don't think so . . . but, such is life. Fleeting as it is, like the echoes in those old halls. What will Star's sons, Angel's nephews come to believe?

Between then and now, life went on just as the inked up pages of my yearbook had begun to yellow and fade.

For now, I'm going back to that hallway, to remember those sisters who were so full of life, so full of promise, so full of untouched tomorrows . . . if even for a little while.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


How did we get from this . . .

to this?

I have no idea. All I know is that it has been one crazy ride that I'd do all over again in a heartbeat.

Happy Birthday JR.

Thank you for teaching me how to breath . . .

and so much more.

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