Thursday, October 16, 2008

Dear Paula

Dear Paula,

It was ten years ago today that you left this world. I didn't find out until Sunday, when your obituary was in the paper. Thank goodness Mom called me to tell me. I went straight over to visit your mother. I sat there in your home, stunned that you were gone. I sat in the room where we sang so many songs together and you played the piano. I've never met anyone who was as talented at playing the piano as you were, Paula. I still sing some of the songs we used to harmonize together. My girls sing them with me now. You always took the high part because I didn't have your fantastic voice range.

Remember the song you wrote? I still remember every single word you sang, and every single note you played. In fact, when I mentioned it to your mother, she'd never heard you sing it before. She asked ME to sing it for her. ME! Only you would know how mortified I was ... for so many reasons (Your mom and I have quite a history. One that entertained you immensely.) But you also know that I could not disappoint your mother when she had just lost her daughter, so I sang it to her in a shaky voice.

Maybe I will run away

face it all another day

Maybe when I'm gone I'll find

someone else will be on my mind

I can

I can

I can

I can

I can

I'm sorry I didn't come and see you before you passed away. You were so accomplished and had done so many things, and I was a mother of three girls, struggling to make ends meet. If I'd known how depressed you were, or that you had even undergone shock treatments, I would have been there right beside you. My own mother had shock treatments. I would have known how to comfort you. Your mother told me you were so depressed, you took medicine on a shedule even throughout the night. She said you accidentally overdosed. But in my heart, and in my mind, I remember everything you went through when we were best friends. I have wondered so many times, over the last ten years, if you took your own life. Why does it matter? Because I'd know that you were defeated in every way, at rock bottom, and completely hopeless. I know that feeling, Paula. I know it well. Some say it is a selfish act, but then sometimes we feel like we might be ruining the lives of our loved ones. Or maybe, just maybe, we have no strength left to breathe.

It haunts me still, Paula. I want to know because I would feel better knowing that it was an accident. And yet everything inside me tells me you were ready to go to sleep. I wish I'd known how bad things had gotten for you. You were always the funny one. You had Barbra Streisand down better than she did herself. You even sang "Memories" at our graduation (that was so cool, by the way.). You had an IQ off the charts, a sense of humor that everyone loved. You were amazing. You also saved me.
I can honestly say that my life would be much different if you had not asked me to be your locker parnter that late summer night. It was the last MIA party of the summer at Murray Park. It was almost time to go home. We were sitting on the door of the station wagon, soaked to the skin, swinging our feet in the cool breeze. Debbie and Jeanie said they were going to be locker partners, and I froze, because in 7th grade I got stuck with a party girl who stole all of my stuff and put the fear of death in me every time I saw her. Then you smiled and asked me if I had a locker partner. In that moment my life changed. I belonged, Paula, and you were the one who let me in.
Ten years later I still grieve terribly for you. I miss you so much. Sometimes I pray, and ask Heavenly Father to send you a message. There are so many times that I think of you during the day. The girls and I will be dancing together to a song that I know you would love. I wish you could come and ride horses with me. Remember how we used to pretend we were horses, and we would jump fences and bushes? Paula, I've got my own horse now! She is wonderful. I hope you get a chance to see her, and to see us together, because when I am riding Scamper, that is the one time I do not feel afraid.

You left us ten years ago today. How I wish you were here. We used to hang out in your room and listen to music day and night. You had excellent taste in music, of course. One song that we enjoyed very much together was "The Long and Winding Road" by the Beatles. I'm playing it here in honor of your memory. No, I won't be singing your song to anyone publicly, but I did sing it a lot today, in the privacy of my own room.

I know that your friendship was a gift to me from my Father in Heaven. I have so much to tell you since I last saw you, Paula. There is so much that has happened. But I'm surviving, and my life is filled with love and happiness. I just wanted to let you know that I believe I'm here today because you were there for me way back when I was lost and alone. I will always love you, Paula Jeanne Hawker. Always.

I miss you,

P.S. I don't even have a picture of you ... will you visit me in my dreams?

1 comment:

Trish said...

NANCY!!!! Your blog is sooooo BEAUTIFUL!!!!!!! Thanks for inviting me!!!!