Salute to friendships
By: Lone Heron

I recently lost a friend of 25 years. A was my first real boss in a real office 25 plus years ago. She hired me as her administrative assistant. She was the regional director of the southern office of a major foreign exchange student program. The heiracrchy went: A: Regional Director, Myself: Regional Directors assistant, fifty coordinators, two hundred and fifty representatives and six to seven hundred foreign exchange students to be placed into american host families to experience the american way of life for a year.

A was only two years older than myself. She was a party girl and charasmatic. She was confident and in charge. She was everything we all wished we could be, or at least she seemed to be. She had it all, the job, the car, the corner office, the handsome talented fiancĂ©, the cool friends……. Ah, the cool friends didn’t turn out to be so cool when truth was finally told.

For eighteen months II worked happily as her assistant and then things started changing. There
was confusion where there had not been before -nothing seemed to be going right in the office, papers were lost, bills weren’t paid, those responsibilities were not my department, but i was blamed for the chaos. Nothing made sense. I was told the company was making cutbacks and i should look for another job, so I did. I found another job and moved on ….went back to school and entered an entirely different career but I stayed in touch with my former boss and over the years an odd friendship grew.

When I graduated massage school A became an infrequent visitor to my table, I met her husband and watched from a distance the process of the birth of two healthy boys and a miserable divorce.
I met her mother. I worked on the boys, I worked on her, and from time to time we would hang out , grill out, talk about the men in or out of our lives, work, and all those things that friends talk about.

Over the years A shared shattered pieces of her story- she allowed me to see her life through the windows of her memories and her pain. Parents divorced early, Dad walked out and basically abandoned A, her brother and mother. Mother remarried financially successful but step dad trespassed his new step daughter. At 14 she ran away and became a heroin hooker on hollywood blvd for a couple of years before somehow she ended up back in her home town on the east coast with mama cleaning her up. She stayed on her wagon ????no one really knows how long….. but it was never long enough. the last ten years of her life she started confessing so many things to me.

Things I would never have dreamed to guess, things like her first son wasn’t really her husband’s but her dealer’s at the time. She told me many things. shocking things like if i had not of left the company where i originally met her of my own accord she would have fired me because she had used me as a cover to embezzle over sixty thousand dollars from the company – twenty years after the fact she asked me why I wasn’t mad as i stood looking at her in total shock. What would be the point of getting mad I asked? It’s done and luckily no harm came to me but why would you do that? You did not need the money. Her answer was a simple shrug and a quiet, just to see if i could”. The more she revealed the more my heart sank as I realized how she had created the nightmare that would in the end take not only take her life, but her 16 year old son’s as well. They died a week apart.
One leaving behind regrets of a life unfilled, the other regrets of how their life was lived.

I have watched from a distance through the windows of my friends memories and learned much about why I would never want to try coke, crank, crack, heroin, meth or any other form of snow to be snorted, cooked, injected or smoked I am glad my blessed mother put the fear of those things in me from an early age. I never really knew my blood father partially at least to his involvement in those things and those things among others led him to tour the united states from a variety of different incarceration ports. He had many second chances. but flushed every one of them down the toilet or so i have been told by those who supposedly know. My friend A was the same the only difference was she had a wealthy mother to bail her out and keep her out of the incarceration tanks but not out of the cancer center.

When A was diagnosed for cancer and had just finished her second round of chemo she sat on her porch telling me how she was clean and hadn’t touched the shit in a year. I told her the only thing that had changed was her dealer. Now instead of meth she had oxycotin. now instead of meeting her dealer in back corners, she did it in the public office of her doctor, the drugs still slowly leading her to the same death, just a different cleaner route than the path she traveled before. She did not disagree.

I have friends who have told me I just should move on and not interact with those who waste their lives on such endeavors, but for all of A’s deception, her unreliability and her destruction she never was short of a smile. She always had a word of encouragement, somehow she always made you feel things weren’t so bad and tomorrow would be a better day. She never held my secrets against me. When i was in the throws of grief that went with writing “Inherited Rage” and thought i would not be able to finish it she would come by and fill my ears with how incredible it was that i was even willing to try. She made me feel good about me and that is what i will remember her by the gifts of love and encouragement that she strewed like rose petals every where she went. She knew how to laugh and at least present the image of having fun, unfortunately it wasn’t until the end that the rest of realized what a front she had put up, and the price she would pay for the secrets she kept.

I will miss my friend A. Despite her faults and human weaknesses she was a good friend to me.
I was blessed to know her and I pray she find that place where she no longer needs a drug to feel the love.

Advertisements