Holding on to What I Haven’t Got

Holding on to What I Haven’t Got

Do you ever randomly think of someone you haven’t seen in ages? This happens to me a lot. All day long, various things will remind me of my friends or family members. It’s like having a memory player on shuffle in my mind all the time. Sometimes it’s people I see every day. Sometimes it’s people I haven’t seen in years. 

When I was a kid, I had a friend who lived around the corner from my house. Her brothers and my brother used to get together and play games, so I would often go over and hang out with her as well. We eventually lost touch, as people often do, but I still think about her often. Not long after I joined Facebook, I tried looking her up but couldn’t find her.  I assumed she didn’t have a Facebook account and gave up.

On Friday I heard a song that reminded me of this friend, and for some reason I decided to try looking her up again. I still didn’t find her, but I found something else…

A memorial page. 

Here I learned that my old friend had died 10 years ago. TEN YEARS AGO. I learned that she had battled Depression. I learned that in 2006 she lost that battle and took her own life. I learned that she died on her daughter’s 11th birthday.  I learned that once again Depression had stolen someone I cared about, and I didn’t even know until a decade later. I had never even known that she was suffering. 

This news hit me HARD. I cried all evening. I tried to distract myself with a little DIY therapy, because I had things that needed to be done and I needed something to do. Halfway through one project all my feelings boiled over and I broke down into a sobbing mess on my kitchen floor. DIY therapy doesn’t always have the results I expect. It occurs to me that it might seem strange to be so upset about losing someone I hadn’t seen or spoken to in years, but our lack of contact did not mean that I didn’t care about her. Until I read this news, I always wondered what she might be doing and imagined she was still out there somewhere…and then suddenly I knew she wasn’t. You might wonder why I would be so sad about a death that happened a decade ago, but you have to remember for me it just happened on Friday. 

Ten years worth of grief hit me all at once. I felt tremendously sad that she was gone. I was heartbroken for her daughter, who lost her mother at such a young age, and on her birthday of all days. I felt disappointed in myself because I hadn’t known for so long. I felt cheated that since I found out so late, I did not get to attend her funeral and I had no one to share my grief or my memories when I learned the news. I wondered what I had been doing when everyone else was grieving and felt guilty for any joy I might have been feeling at a time when her family was suffering. I felt conflicted because I also struggle with Depression. I know how insidiously Depression whispers its lies and how convincing it can be. I know how exhausting it is to fight against your own thoughts every single day, but I can’t even imagine the depth of her pain that would lead her to make such a choice. I felt regret that I was not a better correspondent, and didn’t try harder to stay in touch. I felt angry at the unfairness of the whole situation. All of these feelings sat heavily in my chest.

I tried to remember everything I could about her. I question the accuracy of my memories, because 30 years is a long way back, but these memories are all I have left so I just have to believe them. I resolved to write it all down so I would never forget.

I can still picture the inside of her house in my mind as if I were really there. In her kitchen, I tried a fig newton for the first time. I didn’t want to offend her so I never told her that I thought it was disgusting. I still don’t like them, but every time I see a package of fig newtons in the store, I remember her.

In her living room, we would stay up way too late watching movies that were far too scary for me. I didn’t tell her I thought they were too scary because she liked them and I didn’t want her to think I was a wimp. In that living room I saw Stand by Me for the first time. One time her parents ordered us pizza, and one of them only had mushrooms on it. I thought it was a weird thing to order on a pizza but she assured me I would love it. She was right. It’s still one of my favorite kinds of pizza. 

In her room we would flip through magazines while she tried to teach me about makeup and fashion. I’m afraid  that was always a lost cause. She was one of those girls I wished I could be like, before I learned how to appreciate my weirdness and love myself for who I already was. I got my ears pierced because she had her ears pierced and it was something about her which I could actually emulate successfully. In sixth grade she tried to teach me how to tight roll my jeans because that’s how the cool kids wore them, but I never could get it right so I would just put safety pins in them instead (which was really not the same, and was definitely not “cool.”) She tried to teach me how to use a curling iron. I never really got the hang of it, but I did manage burn myself more than once. She tried to teach me how to dance, which I could never get right either. Fashion and style and coolness were never going to be my things.

I remember one time we set up a tent in her back yard and camped out all night listening to cassette tapes, reading, and trying to predict our futures by playing MASH (because that is how kids entertained themselves before smartphones were a thing.) She had much nicer handwriting than I did. She dotted her “i”s with little hearts. We were pre-teen girls in the 80s so naturally Madonna, Tiffany, and Debbie Gibson were on the soundtrack of that day, among others. I still think of her whenever I hear any of those songs. Most of them are peppy and upbeat, but now I suppose they will always be tainted with sadness.

As we got older we spent less time together, though not because we didn’t like each other (at least I still liked her, but I guess I can’t really speak for her). We just weren’t interested in the same things anymore. I didn’t really fit in with her circle of friends, so eventually I found a new circle for myself. She was always nice to me and said hi when we passed in the hall, but we didn’t really see much of each other outside of school. Eventually my family moved to the other side of town, so we weren’t even neighbors anymore. At the end of ninth grade she signed my yearbook with her phone number and a note saying we should get together sometime over the summer. I don’t think we ever did. I don’t have very many pictures or keepsakes from that time anymore, so that yearbook would have been all I had left. I spent all weekend trying to locate my copy, but it was nowhere to be found. How apropos.

When my family moved to Fargo a few months into my tenth grade year, we didn’t keep in touch. I did see her once, some time after high school, when she came to Fargo for work. I can’t remember exactly when that was, or why she looked me up, but those details aren’t really important. She looked me up, which meant I was not the only person who remembered we used to be friends. It meant a lot to me that she reached out that day. We had a long conversation about what had happened in our lives during the gap years. She told me she had a daughter, and talked about how much she loved that little girl, and told me stories of funny things her daughter did. If Facebook had existed at the time I’m sure I would have sent her a friend request and we might have kept in touch. Unfortunately, Facebook did not exist so that was it. I don’t think I ever saw her again. 
Now these memories only exist in my own head, and if they’re wrong, there’s no one left who can correct me. The memories feel incomplete now because the other half of them is gone forever.

It doesn’t matter that we hadn’t spoken in years. She was an important piece of my childhood. She held a place in my heart, and now there is a huge hole where she used to be. All I can do for her now is remember.

Rest in peace, my friend. 

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Posted by on September 27, 2016 in Depression, Life in General


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Like an elephant graveyard, but with less elephants and more cars

Like an elephant graveyard, but with less elephants and more cars

This afternoon my husband and I volunteered for post-event cleanup after a local charity run. The run went through a park along the Red River, and the path was marked with little flags to direct the participants. Our job was to walk part of the trail and pull up the flags, as well as collect any garbage we found along the way. At one point we came across an unexpected sight:




In addition to being buried fairly deep in the ground, the cars were also riddled with rusty bullet holes. I’m sure there’s a perfectly boring explanation for the cars being here, but that didn’t stop me from imagining an epic Hollywood-style car chase which culminated in the drivers abandoning their vehicles here and fleeing in boats which they had stashed nearby.

Despite clearly being discarded, they wouldn’t really have fit in our garbage bag and probably would have been too heavy to carry, so we left them where we found them.

However, I did stop to take these pictures. I hope you enjoyed them too!

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Posted by on June 4, 2016 in Life in General


Things our Butler does

Things our Butler does

Last month we adopted a 2-year-old Saint Bernard. 


His name is Butler. He’s adorable and we love him like crazy, but sometimes he does silly things. Tonight the kids and I were talking about Butler’s antics and one of them said “people might overhear this conversation and think we have the world’s weirdest butler.” I said they might be a little confused but unless we actually referred to him as “OUR BUTLER”, they probably wouldn’t assume he was a person. And then, naturally, we decided to try it out. Pretty soon we were doubled over with laughter, imagining people’s reactions when we tell people stories of “our butler”.

“Our Butler has been with us since he was two.”

“The other day when I came home, our Butler stole my shoe and ran off with it.”

“Our Butler likes to roll around in the snow outside.”

“Aw man, I just stepped in a puddle of our Butler’s drool and now my sock is all wet.”

“Our Butler sometimes drinks out of the toilet if we forget to close the lid.”

“The other day our Butler peed on Wordsworth’s leg while they were both outside.”

This could be the makings of a world-class sitcom here, folks.


Posted by on February 12, 2016 in Life in General


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Weird things I can say in French

About a year ago I decided that I wanted to learn French, so I downloaded a free language-instruction app onto my phone. I lost motivation and quit using it last summer but recently picked it up again. Since it’s been so long I pretty much had to start over, but this has reminded me of how amusing the phrases can be in this app. I’d like go share with you some of the strange things I have learned to say in French, and their translations.*

1. Je suis un tortue.
I am a turtle.
Really? My first thought is to wonder how many English-speaking turtles have downloaded this app with the intention of traveling to France. And then I wonder why it would be necessary for the turtle to inform the French people he meets of his place in the animal kingdom. Don’t French people know a turtle when they see one?

2. Les femmes mangent du beurre.
The women eat some butter.
Just butter? I mean, I’ve heard that French food can be pretty rich but this seems a little excessive to me. You could at least spread it on some bread first.

3. Les éléphants mangent une pomme.
The elephants eat an apple.
That’s either one GIANT apple, or some really small elephants for them to be sharing one apple between them.

4. Nous mangeons du sucre.
We eat some sugar.
Just sugar? I can’t imagine a bunch of French people sitting around a table, drinking coffee and eating sugar by the spoonful.

5. Les hommes mangent une fraise.
The men eat a strawberry.
Is there some sort of strawberry shortage in France? Why can’t they all have their own strawberry?

6. Je suis une abeille.
I am a bee.
Apparently it’s not only turtles that have urgent need of French language tutorials.

Whether or not I will ever actually NEED to say these things in French is another question. But it’s nice to know I am prepared, should the situation arise.

* I don’t claim to be any kind of expert in the language so I am taking the translations directly from the app. Please forgive me if these are too literal. I can only hope that the translation is somehow lacking and that these phrases would make far more sense when spoken in context to actual French-speaking people.

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Posted by on February 10, 2016 in Life in General


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Translation. I don’t think it means what you think it means

So I was just scrolling through Facebook, and saw this comment on a picture my aunt had shared of her dinner:


I was intrigued by the “See Translation” link at the bottom. Could it be this has some other meaning in a different language? I had to know, so I clicked in the link.


I am sure this will come in handy the next time I travel abroad. Thanks Facebook translator!

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Posted by on June 13, 2015 in Uncategorized


Sorry Mom, I broke my promise

Sorry Mom, I broke my promise

This year my mom told me all she wanted for Mother’s Day was for me to not get her anything. Because I love my mom, I agreed. She’s in another city today, celebrating Mother’s Day with her own mom, which I think is awesome. Mother’s Day doesn’t have to mean mothers spend every minute with their kids, right? Mother’s Day should be about showing your mom you love her by letting her do what SHE wants for a change instead of what her kids want. That’s why I agreed not to get her anything for Mother’s Day.

But I lied a little bit.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on May 10, 2015 in Uncategorized


Clearly Google+ Does Not Understand Religion

I have had a Google+ page for a long time, but like many people with Google+ pages, I often forget about it. Today I happened to go there by mistake when I was trying to check my Gmail, and this picture was among the items in my feed:

Jedi's Witnesses. Do you have a moment to talk about the Force? You will open the door. You will listen.

Being exactly the kind of geek I am, this made me laugh. So I shared it to my Google+, like you do. For some reason, Google saw this and said “Hey man, I heard you like religion. Check this out! I totally understand you now!”

Communities you might like: Top Positive quotes, Knowing Jesus, The Bible

No, Google+. These are not the communities I’m looking for. Move along.

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Posted by on April 27, 2015 in Uncategorized