My old best friend from when I was in the sixth grade died this past Sunday, Valentine's Day 2010. She has two young children, was separated from her spouse, her mom is still alive as is her 2 brothers (Joseph and Anthony) and sister Jaime. This is what I remember about Catherine.
Catherine moved into our apartment complex in Eatontown, NJ when we were both in the sixth grade. We became fast friends...best friends. We were in the same class with Miss Cassagrande (who I met again about five years ago in Manasquan, NJ ...she was working in this upscale deli on Main Street) We both liked this boy in our class named Jason Roebuck. She had the guts to actually place a love note in his desk! And I was so grateful she was my neighbor!! Her little sister Jaime was so tiny and cute. I remember her brother Joseph. Her youngest brother didn't come along until they had moved again back to NY. Her step-dad worked with horses or Blue Ridge farms or something like that and sang lots of songs very loudly. They were Billy Joel songs mostly. Her mom had medium length blonde hair and was busy with the three kids (when they lived in NJ before the fourth came along) and drove her husband to/from work. Catherine said her biological father was killed in a boating accident and her mom married her step father who was her biological father's best friend.
Catherine moved back to NY I think right after sixth grade. I missed her so much! We wrote letters back and forth. Her letters always had these words written on them: "Mr. Mailman Do Your Duty, Send This Letter To Laurie The Beauty." And I would write the same thing back to her using her name!
Once Catherine was allowed to come and spend a week (or some amount of time) with us in the summertime. My mom and I and Bill (my brother) drove to a stop on the Garden State Parkway to meet her and her Mom. Catherine and I were so excited to be able to see each other again!! We giggled and laughed so hard on the way back to our house that we almost peed our pants! I remember wondering if we could make it home! One thing upsetting that happenned during the week she was visiting was when her step dad Joe called and played a prank on us. I can't recall exactly what transpired, but we must have hung up or something and then he called back and we still didn't know it was him and I tried to act "cool" and said "F.U. Joe!" and hung up. When her step dad called back, oh boy was he mad!! Catherine was almost not allowed to finish her stay with us because of that. I felt so ashamed and terrible and apologized up and down. I didn't normally talk like that. Of course he shouldn't have been playing pranks on us in the first place though!!
I remember once when Catherine stayed over at my Grandma's with me, she said "I gotta make!" Grandma found out that that meant she had to pee - every family has a differnt way of teaching their kids to say they have to pee! (In Hawaii it's make "shee shee" which I find interesting.) I also remember Catherine being the first person to say she felt growing pains in her legs when we had sleepovers. Now Katie gets them and I think of Catherine saying that when we were kids.
I visited Catherine in Lindenhurst NY when she had her "sweet sixteen" birthday party. I remember she liked this fellow who was at her party. I visited her there again once when I was in college I think. Catherine came to my wedding and caught the flowers the second time they were thrown in that traditional way the bride throws them to see who the next person to be wed will be. (The first person who caught them threw them on the floor..don't know why, but I didn't like that. Thought it was disrespectful. But probably was some issue going on in her life I guess. Still, not right.) Spoke to Catherine on and off over the years. The last time I spoke to her she told me about her mom, siblings and husband and kids and her catering business. Here's the last email I got from her in response to me or Jim sending out an email about Kanoa's birth: "Congrats to you and your husband so happy for you. (snip...private stuff) ...but I am strong and will be ok. xoxooxo" Catherine was very strong of a person. Feeling guilt here.....I wonder if I ever responded as I was so busy with the new baby. Perhaps we spoke. I wish I could remember things better, but I know I don't remember Lots of things. I know it is not because I am a bad person or anything, it is just who I am. Even important things. Don't ask me why. It just is. I can fret about it and lament over all the memories I can't recall, or be grateful I can remember what I am able to remember (which is still lots of things) and just enjoy those memories and live more in the moment. Living in the moment is the latest big thing people seem to be trying to do. I just try to be happy. And if it makes me happy thinking about the past, I do that. Hey, whatever floats your boat, ya know?! But the goal of living in the moment is really about enjoying and appreciating what you have NOW, not lamenting or worrying about the past or future or what if scenarios. It doesn't mean (to me) that it is necessarily bad to think back at things and look at photos and wonder. As a matter of fact, looking back and thinking on things that are important can help one appreciate the "now" and make better choices at the present and in the future. And Jim so enjoys the old movies and pictures we have. So do I, but I think he likes them even more!! So glad he finds such joy in them! I love him so much and appreciate all those times we had together! (And I wish I could truly remember being at those lighthouses better! Sometimes I forget being at some of them! But sometimes I remember such obscure things like what I or he ate at a certain brewpub or restaurant on our trip of a lifetime! Boy am I glad we did that at such a young age! And I do hope we can do it again! Wish we were able to do it right now, but this is not yet a good time financially and because of having too young kids to do/see what we wish and they'd not like traveling so much yet. We will choose to wait.)
A few weeks ago I had tried looking up Catherine on Facebook because I just joined in September and although I hardly get on there, I sometimes try to find old friends or people I admire. I couldn't find her. (Turns out she uses Catherine Marie Yander Precht...ahhh....that's why!) I should have tried going through Joyce's friends to find her. Didn't think of that till just today (2/20/2010).
So Joyce found me on Facebook last Monday or Tuesday and then sent me an email on Tues or Wednesday to call her. I finally got a chance on Thursday to call. I didn't expect this kind of news. All I could immediately think was that I hope she didn't suffer (Joyce said Catherine died on Sunday morning of a blood clot that came loose in her leg and affected her heart. Thinks she had an hour or so from having this occur to actually dying.) and that if she had to go, that at least it was fast. No one would want to suffer. Death seems scary to me still. And yet there are times when I wonder if it is not as scary as people fear it to be. Sometimes I think that we go into another place...dimension....don't know exactly. But that it is right and natural and okay. And then I think how much I want to be here to stay here and enjoy and appreciate what I do have. I have lost a schoolmate in the 7th grade, had another schoolmate get shot in college and become a quadriplegic (http://www.nytimes.com/1994/12/20/nyregion/car-insurance-covers-shooting-court-says.html?pagewanted=1), have friends who have lost their spouses, know of unschooling families who have lost a spouse and child and in another family a mom, have had friends who have had miscarriages, and now my old best friend is gone. And I have also lost many relatives. Most of them were older, but not all. I feel so bad for her family. For her kids most of all. For her grieving mother and her young sister and George. I would like to write more, but my kids are needing me. I feel resentful that they want my attention as this feels so important to me to write. And yet I should be so grateful that I am alive and wanted and needed by them and loved by my family. So, I will end this letter by saying that I appreciated being close to Catherine when we were and that I am grateful we were able to keep in touch a little these past busy years . I will think fondly of my memories and the times we had together!! I will pray for Catherine's family and wish that they get through this difficult time as best they can. I wish love to surround them and comfort them.
2/21/2010 - Spoke to Dad this afternoon and told him about Catherine. He said that he remembered one day when he, she and I painted the shed in the back of his house white and she got paint on her sneaker and he helped her clean it off.