Thursday, February 02, 2006


we were best friends before we understood the meaning of the term. our mothers were friends, and we would play together while they did their girlfriends thing. dj and his little sister and i would run wild - in and out of the backyard, taking clothes out of drawers to make spaceships, making tents out of blankets... i always had a ball with him.

around february 2, 1985, i had the worst day of my life. (or so i thought at the time, not having lived much life). it was the day of dj's birthday party, and i was missing it, because my dad was at work with the only car, and my mom couldn't get us a ride to the party. i must have worried her to death about when my dad would come home to take me to the party. i wound up missing that party, and i'll never forget the horrible way i felt that day about not being able to see dj. i often wonder if my intuition knew that it was my last chance to ever see him.

my family moved states away shortly after dj's birthday. i never forgot about him and his sister. his mom sent a picture of them to my mom while we were still small children, that included his new baby sister. in all of our trips back and forth between our new home and our old home, i never was able to go back and play with my first best friend. many years later, my family and i were back in virginia. i meant to find him and his sister and see how they were doing - tell them that i remembered them on dj's birthday every year for all of these lost years... but sometimes such errands fall in the "later" pile, and they wind up getting put off again and again. one late january day, i was sleeping in, and i woke up to the sound of my mom calling me to give me the bad news.

"dj was killed. he's dead."

not my dj! not my giggling dj with the big smile. the friend i never got to see grow up into the kind and generous and funny young man that his family and friends spoke about at his funeral. we packed into and overflowed out of the cramped room where his services were held. we sloshed through muddy grass in the rain to put flowers on top of his casket. the rain fell in tandem with many tears over a life that hadn't stretched long enough to mark its 22nd birthday. but every day february 2nd rolls around, i remember the birthday party, the spaceship drawers, and crying in the rain.

my best friend called me today. her water has broken! her son will be here any minute now. i had hoped that he wouldn't be born on a day that already holds such intense emotion for me. but i'm so excited about this new birth. so curious to find out if this best friend of mine will raise a boy who is as eager to smile, as imaginative, and as sweet as the best friend that i lost twice in a lifetime.