In the early 70's, my family moved to Mississippi from Louisiana. I was enrolled into a military school to begin my high school years. At 14 and being a female it was quite terrifying. My first day to attend classes, I was as lost as a student during his first day on a college campus. The school I was going too also had boarding students and their dorms. It was a new world to me.
I'll never forget the first break of my first day. I sat on a bench alone pretending to be absorbed in a book. Someone plopped down beside me and said, "Hi, I'm Sandra Faye, but everyone calls me Sandi." That was the beginning of the first true friendship I ever had. We spent nights with each other during the week, all our weekends together and weeks on end during the summers between our high school years. We had our first drink together, double dated on our first date and she taught me how to smoke a cigarette.
My family moved back to Louisiana the end of the summer before my senior year. It didn't affect our friendship in the least. I still came back to Mississippi at least one weekend out of every month. We kept in contact almost daily. Even when I went away to college in North Louisiana, we still kept in touch. She was already working in a NAPA auto store. When I turned 20, I moved back to Mississippi and moved in with her. We both worked in the parts store for a year before I met my first husband and moved out from her house. My first husband and I visited with them a lot since we lived within 20 miles of her and her boyfriend, later to be jusband. My marriage only lasted 13 months..
I was her Maid of Honor in her wedding and played the piano at her sister's wedding. I even spent two Christmases with her family instead of my own because they were like a second family to me. My parents would come to their house on Christmas Day to see me. When I met my second husband, which is who I'm married to now, once again, we were apart. She and her husband moved about an hour away. We both had baby girls and kept in contact on a daily basis.
After three years of marriage, Jimmy and I separated for about six months. My daughter and I moved in with Sandi and her daughter. (She was separated from her husband also.) We were like extended family. When my husband and I worked out our differences, I moved back home and she and I kept in contact but since we both now worked time consuming jobs, we had less contact. But every year, on my birthday she called early in the morning. She never missed one. We'd meet for lunch every once in awhile when one of us was in the other's home town at the time.
Her dad died a couple of years ago and I attended the funeral. She and I found time to visit and it was as if we'd never been apart. She was the sister I chose for myself.
I could write a book here and not even tell a third of our history together. Sadness, happiness, mischief, but friendship beyond all friendship.
Sandi died of a massive heart attack yesterday. Her younger sister made sure that I got word of her death this morning. I'm shocked and heartbroken by the news. The part of me that was connected to her is shaken beyond repair at this moment. Hoping that writing this would give my heart a much needed breath of relief, I'm finding it even heavier and I know it'll stay that way for days to come. Her friendship is one that'll never be replaced. To me she'll always be that sweet little red-headed teen that plopped down beside me on that bench that day when I felt so alone and offered me the gift of her friendship.
Rest in peace my friend. An angel has been added to the heavens.