There are people who enter your life, and totally unaware of the effect they are having, define or redefine your notions of friendship forever.
I was fortunate to meet my first forever friend when I was only in second grade. We had just moved to Blaine, Washington and I started school as the “new girl” in Mrs. Still’s second grade class. I don’t remember how we became friends, or what the chain of circumstances were that bonded us, but in my earliest memories of that time, Debbie was my best friend.
She had red hair and freckles, and was one of the smartest kids in school but a little on the shy side. She possessed those innate qualities of kindness, intelligence, humor and goodness that set the bar for every close friend to come. I have no idea if she knew it or not, but I treasured the way she brought me into her home and family, and hers was the first tragedy I ever shared with anyone.
Her father passed away suddenly, and I remember how upset everyone was for her. It was the first time that death had touched most of us, and I was probably one of the few that looked past that pain to the challenges of single motherhood her mom would now be handling. My mother was one of the few single moms in my class, and I knew how hard it was.
Debbie and her brother and sister and mom formed a tightly knit group and supported each other through everything. I never got to know her mom very well, but I always admired her and appreciated her kindness to me.
One of my fondest memories is of hanging out with Debbie at her family drive in. It was called “Chuck’s” and it was the source of the best burgers and fries around. Really! They still speak longingly of it in Blaine, even though it closed years ago. After school we would go to the drive in and I would help Debbie with anything I was allowed to do, or we would do homework, or just munch on fries together. Continue reading