For as long as I can remember, I have not made friends easily. I’m sure it has a lot to do with the fact that I’m an introvert by nature. But the few friends that I made in my lifetime have been good ones. I consider myself blessed to remain friends with girls whom I went to elementary school. There were five of us and we all met in first grade. Memories of our little gang huddled up at recess, gossiping about the cutest boy in class, or comparing our newest outfits, remain cherished in my heart. To this day, I stay in touch with each of them through social media. If there is one good thing that has come from Facebook, it is finding old friends to reminisce about the good old days.
Many people will walk through our lives. Few will make a lasting impression, even fewer will become a loyal friend. But even more rare is someone who will be the friend that changes your life forever. I believe most of us never find someone so unique. I can proudly say that I did, and her name was Kathy Sue.
An older cousin of mine introduced me to his friend Kathy when I was around 15, and she was 19. We instantly hit it off as friends. She was intrigued about my life in another state, and I was in awe of her for many reasons. Kathy stood a mere 4’10” and was pretty as a doll with crystal blue eyes and long brown hair. Every guy would turn his head when she entered a room. She had a dazzling smile and the personality to match. She was also very intelligent, attended college, and had a good job. She was everything that I hoped to be someday. The maturity difference between us seemed invisible. We got along great and had a lot of fun together.
As I got older, we became closer. Our maturity levels eventually matched up and we were the best of friends. I lived in Virginia, and she in Tennessee. I visited TN several times a year, as that was where I spent my childhood. Kathy would drop everything, take vacation days from work, and spend every moment with me when I visited. She would make me feel like I was having a red carpet rolled out for me. Everything we did, she would let it be my choice because I was her guest. I never had a family member treat me so well, much less a friend. She was the definition of a true friend.
Years went by and I got married and had children. Kathy had bad luck in relationships and remained single. But no matter when I visited Tennessee, she would be there, rolling out that red carpet, now for me and my kids. She never wavered in her friendship, showing love and support to me and my family no matter how different our life paths had become. We still had so much fun when we were together.
Over the years, I nicknamed Kathy Sue “my little angel”. No matter where my life took me, she was always waiting in the wings with a smile and positive attitude, always there to listen, and offer loving words of advice. She had the patience of a saint and a heart of pure gold. She is the only person I have ever known in my 58 years, that never made me feel a negative emotion. Not once!
Mother’s Day 1999, I took a trip to TN and spent most of my long weekend with Kathy. We celebrated my upcoming birthday and had a wonderful time. We laughed, had long talks catching up on each other’s lives, stayed out till way past our bedtimes, and soaked in as much friendship as we could. The last night we visited, I remember Kathy saying to me she didn’t want to say goodbye. That she didn’t want me to leave, and that it would be too long before she could see me again. I too felt sad and wished that I could take my precious friend back to Virginia with me. We promised to write each other letters, as we had been doing for over 20 years. Little did I realize, that would be the last time I would see my angelic friend.
Two weeks later, after running errands all day, I returned home and found my oldest daughter Robin waiting for me. She had a strange look on her face and I immediately knew something was wrong. She told me to call her dad, that it was very important. She also said, don’t listen to the answering machine. What in the world was going on? She wouldn’t tell me, just kept saying “call dad”. When I called my husband at work, he told me to sit down. He began explaining that someone had left a message on our home answering machine and my friend Kathy was killed that morning in a head on collision on her way to work (the same route she had taken every morning for over 10 years).
It couldn’t be true. I kept asking him, are you sure it’s “My Kathy”? Unfortunately, there was no mistake.
I will always be grateful for that last trip to visit my dear Kathy. I remember her often with great fondness and gratitude. When I think of Kathy Sue, I can’t help but think of how special it was that God picked me to be her friend. She was a priceless gem, and it was an honor to have known her.
It’s been 21 years since my friend Kathy left this earth. I still think of her often, as she was a once in a lifetime kind of friend. I know I will never find another friend like her. They are much too rare. I believe the two of us will be reunited some day and the thought of that makes me smile.
If you happen to have a friend as special to you as my Kathy was to me, my hopes are you appreciate them and never take them for granted. Let them know often how important they are to you. It really is true that we are not guaranteed tomorrow. . . . JoAnn