I remember the morning of November 16th, 1981 like it was yesterday. It was a bright, sunshiny November morning and there was frost on the ground. I had just gotten up to get ready for school when the phone rang...and my world changed forever.
In 5th grade, a new girl had moved to town, Michelle ******. She and I became friends fairly quickly since we were kind of on the outside of the cool kids club. We went to the same church, we spent time at her house. I was always amazed because she had all these older sisters that I thought were so cool. We would do overnights at her house and it was utter chaos with all those girls around. When we got to Junion High new opportunities arrived from us and aside from just classes, we became student managers for the 7th & 8th grade girls basketball teams. I remember after one tourney where we had taken first place, we stood in my Grandma Hanson's kitchen and sang "We Are The Champions" at the top of our lungs.
Michelle's life wasn't perfect though. She was born with a heart condition and had to be gone for treatments sometimes. In November of '81 she was going to the University of Minnesota hospital for some surgery. I didn't fully understand the situation, but she kept telling me she would be OK and I didn't worry about it.
That morning of November 16th when the phone rang, I answered it and Michelle's mom was on the other end. She asked me to get my dad. I naturally asked how Michelle was doing and all Sharon said was please go get your dad. Sharon and Dad taught sunday school together, so I assumed it was something to do with that. But when Dad got off the phone, he told me to go wake up my mom and then he sat me down and told me that Michelle had died overnight. I was in shock. It couldn't be real. She told me she would be fine. How could she be dead?
I dressed and went to school like normal and by the time I got there, everybody knew already and I got lots of hugs and special attention from teachers that day, but it was all kind of a blur for me from then until the funeral. I remember that in detail, even down to the plaid skirt, blue ruffled shirt and clogs I wore.
After that, I had trouble making close friends. I was too afraid of losing them. I just couldn't go through that again and I couldn't trust people when they said they wouldn't leave. It affected me for years. But just this year, 2010, I am finally able to let it go and realize that Michelle had no way of knowing that it would turn out that way. And that I need to celebrate the fact that she is in heaven, healed and living the most happy life where she can sing and dance and run without worry. I like to image her up there hanging out with Dad and all my grandparents. I think they are all watching down on me and cheer me on every single day. And I know there will be a day when we will be together again and we can stand in Heaven like 7th grade girls and sing "We Are The Champions" again.
Thanks for reading.....see you next week!!