My friend Liz died on Monday.
Liz was my best friend in fifth and sixth grade, that time when friends are so crucial, but really good friends are hard to come by.
I switched to Catholic school for seventh grade, and Liz stayed at the public school. As often happens, we grew apart, and until this past September, I hadn't seen her in four or five years.
But we had a lot of fun together. A whole lot of fun.
The first "big-kid" sleepover I ever went to was at Liz's house. Liz, our friend Margaret and I stayed up until four or five in the morning, reading her big sister's Cosmo and watching Waterworld. I had never read Cosmo before, and I had never seen as sophisticated a movie as Waterworld. Liz had a big sister, so she knew about these things. At Liz's house, we could watch GROWNUP movies. You know, quality cinema.
Liz, her younger sister Siobhan, Margaret and I had a village in Liz's basement. A real-live village. Everyone had a house, made out of old storm windows, sheets, pillows, and whatever else we could find. Everyone also had a business. Liz had a cafe. I tried to have a cafe, too, but it didn't work out so well- while I was selling water and pretend food, Liz bought penny candy at the (real) corner store and sold that and soda. Eventually, we started paying real money for it. The other day, we realized that she was running a company store. She had a monopoly on that little village.
Liz's family has a house in the White Mountains, and Dewey and I went there with them several times. One summer, my dad took Dewey, Siobhan, Liz and Me there for a week. My mom stayed at home. Unfortunately, she came down with a bad bout of diverticulitis while we were up there, and so my dad and all four kids had to schlep home, and then back to New Hampshire, a couple of times. Every time, Liz would sit in the car, working on her mancala game. She figured out how to win in one move, but then it became her goal to figure out how to get every single bean in her pot in one move. She would take out her mancala board in the car, set it up, try something, write the results down in her notebook, and then try something a little different. She would do this for hours.
That was the thing about Liz then, and from what I have learned spending time with her and her family these past couple of months, now, as well: everything she did, she was committed to. Which made it really wonderful to be her friend. I was lucky to have known her when I did, and I was lucky enough to get to reconnect with her in these past few months. She will be missed greatly.