I just got word tonight (via facebook, of course) that a friend of mine from high school passed away. I haven’t actually shared spoken words with her since high school, or actually seen her since graduation, as she moved out of the area way before I did, but we caught up a few times via the internet. She had chronic health problems since she was a child (juvenile diabetes) and was extremely brittle (that is a term that means uncontrolled with her blood sugars). Even throughout high school she was in and out of the hospitals with blood sugar issues and complications. I know in the past few years she had been found passed out in public and spent time in the ICU. And I know as a nurse that diabetes, especially her type, is not kind to the body. I’m not sure what happened this time, but I’m glad she is no longer suffering.
She used to pass out those glucose tabs (that they give to diabetics) out like candy during class. She was the first diabetic I ever met, and through her I found out I wasn’t squeamish around needles (that helps when your future occupation requires poking people with needles). I can still see her handwriting in my mind. She had this really loopy handwriting, mainly all curves. She was smart as hell and wanted to be a biomedical engineer, but I’m guessing her health got in the way. She went through a lot more in her life than just the diabetes, and I hope she has found peace.
She isn’t the first classmate of mine to pass away, but the first one whom I would actually go to the funeral, if I was living in pgh. And the first that isn’t drug related or a suicide. Or a shooting. Or a drug related shooting. Or an accidental drug related quasi suicide. I graduated in 2000.
This makes me think about high school, as I’m sure everyone does from time to time. Those four years for me, weren’t so great and lasted so long in my mind. Now four years go by in a nanosecond.
Thanks to the wonder of the internet (and Mr. Zuckerberg) I am in nearly daily or at least weekly contact with a good portion of the majority of those that shared my high school. I have found out that at least 2 boys silently pined away for me and found the courage to tell me 10+ years after the fact (I honestly thought one hated me because he actually used racial slurs to tease me. Turns out he didn’t know it was a racial slur when he said it in the 6th grade). And many people act like we were best friends in high school, even though, if this were 13 years ago, they wouldn’t even look at me let alone acknowledge my existence.
I dealt with a lot of negative attention in middle and high school due to my ethnicity and the lack of others like me in that area. I would have people come up to me and ask me “well, what are you?” and I would reply “human, what are you?” And that continued into nursing school and into my career. Grown adults would ask me if I was Hawaiian or Samoan, or biracial (technically, yes, but not what they were thinking). They never thought to ask if I was Latina.
Maybe that’s why I haven’t been back in three years. I did not make my 10 year reunion, no cash, and I’m not sure I wanted to go. I would have seen the girl that passed away last night at the reunion. Maybe I’ll feel better about it at the 20th. I don’t think it is me not letting go of the past, its more about me not justifying the airfare to see people who treated me poorly.
Everyone gets made fun of as a kid. Make fun of me because I said or did something embarassing in class. Make fun of me because I’m a klutz. Make fun of me because I’m a bookworm or because I can’t kick the kickball in gym class. Don’t make fun of my ethnicity. I can never, ever change it, its who I will always be, and it is something I will pass on to my children.
That’s a road down memory lane I was not planning on taking. Cleansing breaths.
I hope one day I can think about that time in my life and not have painful memories. Maybe one day.
I know my friend didn’t have such an easy time of it either. Rest easy MB.