You know that saying about people being in your life for a reason a season or a lifetime?
Well in 4th grade I had a friend named Jennifer Mizlo. Although if I were being a realist I would have to admit at the time she was more of an acquaintance; a friend of a friend. However she was also a neighbor; about 5 doors down. Our mutual friend lived right across the street from her. So on occasion we would all hang out together. It's what 4th graders do. Just about the time that I felt like a friendship was about to form WHAM she moved. Far, far, away. At least as a child that is what I remembered. My memory of her was that she had skin like a porcelain doll, really dark black hair with crystal clear blue eyes. All I could remember was that she had moved to a state that started with an M. Isn't that crazy? Anyway I wished for quite a while that I had gotten to know her better because I felt like we had really clicked and she was gone.
My life went on...
Sophomore year was my first year of high school. It was such an exciting time in our lives. I was right in the middle of dance team tryouts with my core group of friends. We were all there every morning for about a week. Then the whistle blew and we were told we could get a water fountain break. The gym has a couple of double doors heading out into the hallway My friends and I exited one door and another group of girls we didn't know exited the other set. They were in line first and I was looking at the girl in the front of the line. Who was she? She looked so familiar! (banging my forehead) I know I know her ...oh my gosh who is she? She looks up and we make eye contact, She's got that same stumped look in her eyes. Crystal clear blue eyes, porcelain doll skin, dark black hair. It hit us both at the exact same time! "Jennifer!" Immediately, we picked up right where we left off.
We spent our entire sophomore year hanging out on the weekends, having boy crushes, screeching every-time we had to put that blue eye-shadow and red lipstick on for football game performances. She was such a doll! She had a cousin Todd, who lived with her. She would always say,"you two would be perfect for each other." She wanted us to go out so bad. But I kind of felt that he was out of my league. Although we did become great friends. He always had a girlfriend. Usually they were girls that Jen and I did not like. Well now in our junior year Jen had a boyfriend, Billy. The love of her life! He was in awe of her as well.
Then day I arrived at school and was walking through the courtyard, when I spotted Todd with the girlfriend. He saw me and bee-lined it over to me which was weird because he was with his girlfriend. He was always joking around and being funny.
He said to me,"There was an accident , Jen was hurt really bad!" I react with "get out of here" and shove him in the shoulder.
His hair kind of falls to the side as he steps back and I see has has a huge red bump on his head. Still I think he's kidding! So the first bell rings and I run to class while he stands there with girlfriend in hand with that look of disbelief! I figured it was because he didn't convince me to fall for his joke! A few class periods later some friends approach me in tears; and even then I had to ask what was wrong? They look at me and say "It's Jennifer"
So I start my hunt for Todd, who is nowhere to be found. I spot the girlfriend, who I normally do not speak to, "Do you know where Todd is?" she tells me he went home; with that look of irritation because I didn't believe her boyfriends story.
By the time I got home from school, my friend and I asked my mom to call her mom. They were at the hospital. What had happened was they were on their way to school and Todd had a VW bug he had been working on but was still not done. It was missing seat-belts and the back seat. He was getting ready to turn at a red light; the light turned green but some man decided to run the light and plowed into them. Todd hit his head , her sister was in the back area was tossed around and broke ribs etc.. Jennifer flew out of the windshield and landed in the street!
We arrived at the hospital, I had no idea how bad it was. She was being kept alive on a breathing machine; her entire chest and stomach would go up and down. Then there was her face... Covered in stitches...it wasn't like porcelain skin anymore. Her stitches were jet black like her hair, They were so cartoon like on her face huge thick lines, tons of them over and over all over her face. I could not believe that we would not be together for graduation, and the rest of our lives. The idea that she had come back into my life and mine in hers twice, and then she was gone.
I wasn't allowed to go to her funeral, which was hard. I lost touch with her family, except on occasion would see her younger sister waitressing. I miss her immensely! Now I would have to say I am the worst when it comes to remembering peoples birthdays but for some reason every year on her birthday the minute I wake up I realize...today is her birthday. One year on her birthday I googled her name and was shocked that her gravestone popped up. Since I didn't go to her funeral, I never saw it or even knew where it was. It seemed a little crazy that someone had taken a photo of it and put it on the internet.
But there it was on her birthday.
So I kept it.
She was such a great friend, she gave me confidence, always telling me I was pretty, always listening to me when I needed a friend, So whether it was a season; which is all I had her for, or a reason; and there were plenty of those or a lifetime; every morning on May 7th I will remember!
HAPPY BIRTHDAY JEN