Eighth grade is for me just a cluster of little but sometimes big memories, though I didn't always know they were big at that time. In a lot of ways, good and bad, it was a beginning.
One of my favorite classes in junior high, was creative writing. I was very self conscious in everything because I had low self esteem and self image. But in creative writing I blossomed! I felt right at home and it was really one of the first classes I felt I excelled in and also enjoyed. In fact, when we were in a group once, sharing and revising our freshest short stories, no one could come up with anything wrong with my story, not even a spelling error. My teacher, Mrs. G, came over, she would always say there was room for improvement and she would help them find something on mine, because really no one wanted to give anyone any criticisms. Mrs. G read my paper, and when she looked up she had a huge smile across her face. She said they couldn't find anything to fix, because there wasn't anything wrong! I was so excited! I felt proud to find my niche. I could write.
In another class, later that year, Mrs. G was my teacher yet again, this time for life management class- basically similar to home ec. We learned recipes and cooking skills (which I quickly forgot) and also we did simulated games when we would have 'money' and draw different jobs and circumstances. No egg babies or getting 'married' luckily, though I did have an egg baby for a babysitting course I took in 5th grade. During one of our simulated games, Mrs. G pointed me out to the whole class as being the smartest with my money, because I was the only one saving any (of course saving it is a lot easier when it's pretend money!!). I felt so proud of myself, and believed that would mean I was ready for the real world. Little did I know how much that class didn't really cover!! Mrs G, though hated by most students, became one of my favorites as she encouraged me and boosted my confidence throughout my junior high years. I even would see her come into the thrift store I worked at during high school. She always came in once a year, maybe twice, right before school would start and buy mounds of clothes (I worked there 4 years, and I was working each year when she came in)! I learned a lot from her, not only about writing, but also many skills that did stick with me from that life management class (apart from the cooking).
Something else that happened during my years at junior high (7th-9th grades in my school district), was learning that a good friend of mine had melanoma. Her name was Lindsey. She was actually in my creative writing class, and she was very talented. Not only could she write, she could draw as well. She ended up designing the cover for our class 'book' that we made as a collection of our favorite poems and short stories we wrote during creative writing class. It had lots of palm trees and water falls on the cover. Lindsey loved to draw palm trees and waterfalls, she would've loved Guam.
I remember Lindsey sitting at the lunch table showing me the small crater in her forehead where they had removed the cancerous mole. She tried not to make a big deal out of it, and since I knew little of cancer or what to say to her, I let it go. Life went on that year and it didn't really come up much. What I didn't know is that melanoma can be deadly. We didn't see each other much in high school. It was gradual, and I don't remember exactly when, but by senior year she wasn't attending anymore and I saw her once at the store without her hair. I still didn't know what to say, though it broke my heart inside. I remember around graduation encouraging my friend Victoria to go visit with Lindsey (who she was a lot closer with then I was). Victoria was scared, maybe of saying goodbye, or seeing her as she was now, sickly. She asked me to come along, but I came up with an excuse not too. I was scared as well. Victoria went to see her, I didn't. A few weeks later after coming home from work, my mom, with tears glistening in her eyes asked me to sit down. I knew something was wrong but I had no idea what it could be. I refused to sit down and insisted she just tell me, but all she could do was hand me the piece of newspaper with Lindsey's picture on it. As soon as I recognized it as an obituary I broke down and cried. Once I was composed, I immediately tried to reach Victoria, to see how she was. I don't remember if she had known or not yet, I think I may have been the one to reach her mom and tell her, and then I went over to their house to be with her. Later we went to the funeral together.
I still cry at the thought that I never said goodbye to Lindsey. I never talked to her about Jesus, and I don't know if she knew Him or not, so I may never get to see her ever again. How could I let the chance to share with her and say goodbye slip through my fingers? How could I say no, when God tugged at my heart to talk to her in her last weeks? It is still something that sometimes haunts me now, and sometimes it all feels like a dream. How could any of it be real? Graduating high school should be a time of celebration, how could a girl who should be excited as her life is just beginning be gone in just an instant?
This is my 10th post in a series of 15 that I am doing to record my youth with other woman at