I remember the day she lay on the carpet, aching in her back and in her belly. She had complained about it for days, maybe even months but that day that she lay on the carpet we all knew that something was wrong. We. We were like the three musketeers. We had known each other as budding preteens, blossomed into young adults, and saw each other through very difficult times into our 20's.
In the 7th grade, she was the 'life' of math class, P.E., and the cafeteria. Mr. Takahasi, the math teacher, couldn't say a think about her antics. He laughed right along with us at all the excuses she made about why she didn't have her homework. She would pass notes in class with the express intent of the teacher intercepting them. She.Was.The.Life.Of.The.Party.
Girls camp would never be the same after her many different antics and her extreme enthusiasm for performing CPR. She said it would help her kiss better. She also walked around Girls camp with curlers in her hair. 12 years old, with so much confidence to be able to pull off curlers in her hair without worrying about people making fun of her. I am still in awe of how comfortable she was in her own skin. It was like she knew she would be here for a short time, so she made her very human experience full of LIFE. There was no time to worry about what other people thought of her. However, her one vulnerable spot was her family. She had intentions of pleasing them but she felt like she always fell short. I think she shined!
At the end of our high school years, she wow-ed the entire senior class with her daisy duke shorts and t-shirt under her graduation gown. She coupled that with a flower in her hair and flip-flops on her feet. The rest of us were laced up in our fancy suits and dresses. Very conventional! She never did conform. I'm glad she didn't.
A friend on Facebook posted a memory of her the other day, since this is the week she left this earth back in 2001. As if she were speaking to our dear departed she said, "Miss how you saw me walking on Moana street at 10AM and I didn't get home til 6AM the next morning. Got the lickings of my life but loved every minute." That was a classic "Mish" move. She just had the tendency of coming into your life and turning it upside down, in an extremely exhilarating way.
She introduced me to my first husband. I love her for that. Even if he and I didn't last very long, I'm grateful for the experience. I'm grateful that she was such a big part of my life.
What she represents for me, rather, what she could bring out of me is a complete feeling of being carefree. She never did settle down. She never bore any children yet she left tender hearts all over our community. It seemed, she always appeared in my life when things were rough. She'd show up with a big fat joint and a 40 ounce or the means to acquire said items. I suppose I have no use for those items now yet they evoke a nostalgia for those carefree days (when my morals were not exactly intact... you figure that one out).
One day she was here then four painful months later, she was gone. That aching in her stomach and back turned out to be cancer. Within two weeks, she had tumours protruding from her head. There were five of them, very large, just sticking out of her head. I couldn't bear to see her in such pain but I visited her at least a couple times a week and even spent the night, on occasion. When she went to Queens Hospital, we had a slumber party in her room. The nurses were happy to see her laughing. After her initial treatment was administered, they released her. That gave me a false sense of hope that she would get better.
She continued her treatments as an outpatient. But the treatments did not yield health. The cancer had spread to her uterus and her bones and was not retreating. The doctors outlook was grim. I knew I had to say goodbye. On a day she didn't feel weak, we took her to sing Karaoke. She loved that! As we were in our private karaoke room, we sang "That's What Friends Are For". I can't bear to sing that song, even now. It makes me miss her so much. We cried throughout the entire song.
Christmas Day of 2000, she was coming out of a coma in the hospital. Her mom told me that she hadn't been able to speak for sometime. I sat in her room with her. Just me and her. I was at the foot of her bed, crying my eyes out and trying to "let her go". That had to be one of the toughest things I've ever experienced. By New Years Eve, she had come out of the coma. When I went to see her, she was so vibrant. Not like life-of-the-party vibrant, it was something more eternal. When I walked into the room, she looked up at me and said, "Neena, they came lastnight." She told me about the angels that appeared at her window the previous night and how she heard the most beautiful music. Those were some of the last memories I have of her.
I remember the day she left this world. I was seated at my desk and, like a ton of bricks, I felt her all around me. I starting bawling at my desk. I picked up the phone to call her parents house. Her sister indeed informed me that she had faded away. It was February 10, 2001. I'm glad she visited me before she left. I'm glad she was a part of my life. I look forward to seeing her again some day.