We were actually pretty unlikely friends. I was a teacher's pet kind of kid while Laurie was a bit of a wild child, always pushing the boundaries and seeing what she could get away with. She wasn't afraid of getting into trouble. I was both in awe of her and glad I wasn't her at the same time.
Laurie was the one the boys were drawn to. I was the one the boys would call to confess their crushes and to find out more about her. So she got the boyfriends, but I consoled myself with the fact that I got lots of practice learning how to be friends with boys. She was, though, directly responsible for my first kiss. One of her boyfriends set me up with a friend of his and we double dated.
I looked through my pictures of her tonight. In quite a few of them she had, on purpose, a goofball expression like this:
Or she was posed like this:
I didn't see much of Laurie after I went away to college. She left home, got married and had a baby. She sent me pictures and wrote that her spirited daughter might have been payback for all the grief she caused her own parents. The last time we talked, we arranged to meet up when I was passing through the town where she lived. That was five or six years ago, maybe even longer. She wasn't home when I got there. I figured we'd just gotten our wires crossed. We lost track of each other after that.
Her little brother found me recently, and I learned that Laurie took her own life four years ago. I don't know any more than that, and though I've been grappling with it, it's not my story to tell. I still haven't even quite grasped that she isn't in our world anymore.
I'm so glad she was such a part of my life growing up. And I'm so sorry that I thought we'd have plenty of time to reconnect again one day. I sure love you, Laurie, my friend.