The above comes from a political Facebook page, but I’ve had a similar thought rolling around in my head for about a week now. Last weekend, I heard a song from around the 1988-90 time frame. No, I don’t remember what it was at the moment.
Anyway, have you ever had a song or something spark a memory of someone you knew around the time it was popular, making you curious enough to spend a couple of minutes seeing if Google can tell you what became of them? Well, that happened to me, and the outcome has been bugging me ever since.
In the late 80’s, I was 13-15 years old (depending on which year you pick), and attending a small church in central Texas. There were 3 really cute sisters also in the youth group in that church, and I considered them pretty good friends. From time to time, they’d come over to my house after church and spend the afternoon goofing around with me and my older cousin. Totally pointless, but still lots of fun.
In early 1990, the sisters moved to another part of town, so we never saw them at church nor hung out with them again. I’d hear the occasional rumor about one of them, but deep down I’m an optimist, so I don’t think I ever really believed anything I was told.
Mid-1990, right after the school year ended, I moved to another state (my mom remarried 2 years earlier to an Army guy, and he was stationed somewhere else). The last time I saw any of these girls was around 1994; I was in college in the central Texas area, had come down to visit my grandmother, and saw the youngest one walk past me in the Kmart parking lot. Being totally smooth like I am around attractive girls I’m scared I have nothing to say to, I panicked and acted like I didn’t see her. I went straight to my car, drove away, and didn’t really think much about it until this week (I did speak to a cousin of their’s about a year earlier, who told me the two older sisters had gotten married. This was the last status update I had on them).
Back to the song I mentioned earlier. It sent me down the “I wonder whatever happened to…?” path. Well, I Googled the youngest one’s name, mostly because she was the one I wasn’t 100% certain had married, meaning she might still have her maiden name. What did I find out?
Well, two things. First, their mom died this past December at the age of 68. Seems pretty young to go, so that was sad enough. However, in the “Preceding in Her Death” section, I found the youngest sister’s name. It was like someone punched me in the gut. A little more Googling led me to the date she died: April of 1997! My long lost friend died at the ripe old age of 20.
I haven’t been able to find anything that tells me how she died, and I’m not sure I really need to know. Regardless of what happened, death at that age is a horrible tragedy. I also found out she’d given birth to a daughter about 4 years before she passed, so the little girl had to go through life not knowing her mom.
Roughly 10 minutes on Google left me mourning the death of an old friend…16 years after it happened.
In trying to process this whole thing, I realized something else died this week: my illusion of how this girl’s life turned out.
If someone had asked me what happened to her, I would’ve had to say, “beats me,” but would’ve assumed that she was married, had a few kids, and was probably a great mom (we taught vacation Bible school classes together, so I can vouch for her mom potential). Honestly, this is my assumption for anyone I ever knew growing up, from the friend I’ve been discussing here, to the people in my carpool in kindergarten, to the college roommate I didn’t get along with. My guess is that they’re all well on their way to succeeding at living the “American Dream.”
Realistically, I’m terrible at keeping in touch with people, and I’ve probably crossed paths with a lot of people I really liked that passed away far too early. However, they live on in my illusion.
Have I learned anything from this weird incident? I’m not sure, but I do know that I need to do a better job keeping up with people. So, if you know me and find you haven’t heard from me in a while, feel free to call or email and gripe at me for being a lousy friend.
As far as the three sisters go, I found the oldest one on Facebook. Once I get up enough nerve, I might see if I can rekindle an old friendship…or get labeled a creepy stalker. Never know how things will turn out without trying!