Last Spring, a friend from home took her life. I hadn't been in touch with her in years. We had known each other in our coming-of-age period. A time during which she had rescued me from a life-changing bad decision, had showed up and advocated for me at the infirmary when I had an allergic reaction, and had spent days and nights in countless shenanigans with me and our other friends.
Her death surprised me. Facebook made her life look happy and content. My response to the text that she had died was to think her sister’s Facebook account had been hacked and that someone was playing a heartless prank. I hadn't really known her as an adult. When we bumped into each other in town, we said hi and were friendly, but until her death, I didn't even know she had lived a mile from my house.
Despite our acquaintance status as adults, her leaving ambushed my emotions for days. I missed deeply the friend I had known in high school. Her quirky brand of persistent energy was gone from the world. The last time I had spoken to her she was rushing to pick up her son, a smile, a wave, a quick hello from the window of her car, and she was gone.
Several months after her death, I stood with two other friends from childhood at a crowded music festival waiting for The Flaming Lips to take the stage. These two have endured my coming-of-age period, my post college workaholic phase, and my new mommy hormonal stage and will most likely endure many more stages all the way to 100 with me. We had spent hours on the phone after our friend passed and had intentionally set up that weekend to honor the love we have for each other.
Earlier that day we had drunk coffee our AirBNB host had left us. The coffee brand was called Sparrow, the same nickname of the friend we'd lost. At lunch, the restaurant owner gave us a slice of chocolate cake. My dinner ended up being given to me by the owner of a food kiosk at the concert. Throughout the day, we had met other folks reuniting for the weekend with long time friends. Some people will say it’s all coincidence, but I think our friend was watching over us, reminding us how important it is to spend time with the people you love.
And if the events throughout the day weren’t message enough, The Flaming Lips made sure we understood as they sang, “Do you realize that everyone you know someday will die?”
Sparrow, this painting is for you. Thank you for all the laughs, the tears, and the years we spent together.