Ro FoleyWhen I was about to start 3rd grade I switched school systems. Not that far geographically, but when you're that age, 2 towns away was the other end of the earth. Though looking back on it now I don't actually recall being upset by it (my parents might tell a different story).
I do however remember the first day of class. I was assigned to sit next to a boy who had a broken wrist. I was put in charge of helping him with "everything" - don't ask me what those things were as we were young & I think most of our time we were just playing around, but the fact is I still know this boy. That might sounds strange and I guess stated that way it is weird, but my point is that we're still in touch. Another person who I still keep in touch with from that first year in my new school was a girl named Kristen, I don't actually recall meeting her, but I know she wasn't in my homeroom, so it must have been through orchestra class that we met.
I know this is sort of a strange post and you probably have no clue where I'm going with it, but nor do I really, I have a point I promise, just not sure how I'm going to get there just yet, so hang on a bit longer, I promise I've got a good point!
Kristen & I became really good friends, we played at each other's houses, had sleepovers, talked about boys, laughed, cried, played violin and piano, she made beautiful jewelry while I pretended to make a necklace - it was obvious from the get go she was the artist & I was the science geek - but the friendship worked really well. Somewhere in early high school we lost touch for a few months, maybe even a year, but then caught up again later and even though lots had happened we both picked up where we'd left off.
Then it came time for college, I went off to Hofstra and she went off to Alfred, both in New York, but not close at all. With neither of us having cars and the internet not what it is today, we sort of lost touch again, but during holiday breaks we'd meet up and with our mom's being friends we were able to hear how the other was doing.
My second year I transferred up to Norwich University in Vermont, fell madly in love with a guy from Rhode Island and just before my parents decided to move away from where I'd grown up I insisted on bringing this boy over to meet Kristen and her parents for "approval". I remember this day well - Ro (Kristen's mom) welcomed us as she always did with a huge hug. We sat and talked for awhile and when we were leaving Ro held me extra close and whispered, "I guess he'll do". I'll never forget that moment because here I was thinking he was the perfect one for me and I so badly wanted Ro to love him as much as I did, but something in her voice told me she didn't. Of course within a few minutes I was over it, thinking she was probably just being protective of me. I mean she'd been my second mom for over 10 years at this point!
Then November of 2000 he broke off our engagement - I was a disaster. When I eventually told Ro, she said, "I know great things will come of this". Again I was a bit upset with her, but she was right, great things have happened! After graduation in 2001 I moved to Saranac Lake, New York and with Kristen now living in Ardsley, we didn't see each other often, but with the discovery of AOL instant messenger we were able to keep in touch more often.
I often tell the story of Ro and I speaking on IM and she would write ROFL which at the time I had no clue it meant rolling on floor laughing. In my mind it was a weird thing she wrote every once in awhile and I started to call her Rofl, cause she wrote it a lot in our conversations. I think it was about a year before I learned it's true meaning and of course when I told her the story
Since I had not seen any of the family in a few months, I thought it was strange when I came home one evening and had a message from Kristen's father asking me to call them back. I immediately picked up the phone, worried something was wrong with Kristen, as her wedding was scheduled in just four months and I was one of the bridesmaids.
Never in my life will I ever forget where I was when Kristen's dad picked up the other end of the call. I can see my apartment at 75 Main Street, I can see the white walls with light blue trim, the large windows and the sunlight shining through. I can also picture my friend sitting on the edge of my bed waiting for me so we could go out. Kristen's dad had been a cop, done lots of work with security companies, ya know, not a timid shy man by any means so when he answered the phone quietly I was scared to ask what was going on. And again, I can hear him saying this in my head as if we were on the phone right now, "It's my wife . . . . she . . . . Ro passed away . . . " I was speechless. I can't tell you what I said because all I remember thinking was my world as I knew it was falling apart and I remember sitting down on the brown carpet. I know when I got off the phone, my friend came over to see what was wrong & there were tears running down my face. I couldn't imagine the idea of never seeing Ro again. She was always so happy to see me. She thought my love of science was weird (being an artist herself) but she supported me wholeheartedly and even told me the few necklaces I made were beautiful, even though we all know they were crap!
Here I sit July 31, 2010 at 1.25am with tear running down my cheeks almost as if the phone call just came through. It's been quite a few years since it happened, but I guess being back here in the US and having hung out with Kristen the past two weekends, I realise how much I miss Rofl!! So many things have happened since the last time I saw her face to face. I know she's watching and probably having quite a few good laughs at my expense, but I really really wish she were here to hug.
I know she is proud of Kristen in all that she has done and is doing, but that doesn't make it any easier for those of us left behind. I wish there was a way I could show Kristen how proud her mom is of her, cause she's going through a lot and I bet would love a Rofl hug, cause I know I sure could use one sometimes!
This post was spurred on by this quote, which I found from the boy with the broken wrist from 3rd grade.
There are stars who's light only reaches the earth long after they have fallen appart. There are people who's remembrance gives light in this world, long after they have passed away. This light shines in our darkest nights on the road we must follow.