Lachelle's and my friendship was very close but it was also tragically short. Lachelle passed away from Lupus when we were in 2nd grade, she was diagnosed in October 1991 and had gone home to God by March of 1992. I remember being told that it wasn't a disease that children usually get and beyond that, I didn't understand anything else. I remember a little bit about the progression of the disease though, and how she had special permission to lay down and rest in the school office if she felt fatigued, how she could have those white and red star mints to suck on, and I remember shielding us with my jean jacket by creating a tent to hide us from from the children that would board the school bus, gawking at her cheeks, which had become very swollen from her treatments. It's ironic for me to think that my own symptoms would so closely reflect her own, some 20 years later. When things got worse for Lachelle, I was able to go visit her and push her around her hospital floor in a wheelchair. I pushed her up and down the halls for hours just talking to her. She had recently had a stroke though so she wasn't able to respond very much, but she knew who I was and her deteriorating condition didn't phase a young me. Fairly soon after that, Lachelle passed away. It was hard on me at first and I would cry at night because I had to break promises to her of plans that we had, big and small, and I didn't understand how to reconcile that, being so young. Actually, it is still hard for me in my own journey, except now that pulling feeling stems from wanting to promise my daughter the world, but possibly not being able to keep those either. That is why living in the moment, day by day is so important to me. But, I was very close with Lachelle's family and that didn't change after her passing. I was asked to be a part of her mom's wedding when she got remarried. Lachelle was supposed to be the junior bridesmaid, but instead, I got to stand up in the place of my best friend and share in her family's happiness following such a sad time. I got to be her bridesmaid. Lachelle also had a little sister named Chloe that was born the August before she got sick. Her mom, asked me, soon after the funeral, if I would be Chloe's honorary big sister. That was the biggest honor that could have been bestowed on me and I took my job very seriously by frequently visiting to play with her and eventually being pen pals through my school years, after my family moved away. In fact, just last year when I was living in Chicago, Chloe and her sister Grace came to visit me.
Today is Lachelle's Birthday and I'm a little tearful as I write this because I still love her, and 24 years later, I still miss her. Through the years and even into college and grown up years I kept her picture in a box in my bedroom. It's only recently, since I moved that I can't find the picture, my mom and I actually looked for it tonight. But that's ok because lives in my heart and today, being her birthday, I wanted to write this blog to honor her memory but I also wanted to write it because that memory of her 8th birthday, when I gave her that game, is profound for me to look back on. It was symbolic in her journey and it is symbolic in my journey as well. We passed "life" lessons between us at such a young age, building our make-believe lives and all the while building a bond of strength that would lead us through our future battles. I believe that she is on my team and she is helping me as one of my Guardian Angels and honestly, I've had some pretty spectacular confirmations of that. I will continue to spin the colorful dial of "life," but it will be the real word version, and I will take everything that is given to me and continue to go down the path that is meant for my life until I win my fight and...this game of life.
|Thank you to Lachelle's Mom, Beth, for replacing my lost picture with this one.|
She is beautiful and looks like an angel.