Last night, I needed to find some photos of a dear friend. It was the kind of urgency that comes with the dying, the definitive timeline, and has no wiggle room. If only I could find the photos, maybe there would be one I had forgotten about, one that would make me say out loud in the quiet of my home, “Oh my gosh, I forgot about that one…” That photo would carry a balm, a sense of You are losing that person, but not really, because you still have this..
Would there be any pictures of us? You know the ones. Those photos where you can tell how well the friends connect from their comfort in the frame. You can see the ease, the banter, the unapologetic mutual adoration, and silliness.
Pulling the cardboard box off the steel shelving in my guest room closet, I bent the folding flaps in my hurry to get to the albums. Grabbing inside I tugged at the first of 3 small albums and opened it flat on my lap. After only a couple of pages, there they were, pictures from conference. One in particular had Dear Friend with a grin–not unusual–standing outside with my friend Nicole.
Then I remembered what I didn’t know I had forgotten.
Nicole and I had been in charge of a cabin of seniors in high school. DF was 18 and was in the cabin (DF is now an adult by the way) and Nicole and I had discovered–as you do at camp–that we connected. We told the girls we were going for a quick walk while they finished getting ready for bed. Our group was mellow and they’d likely chat a little and go to sleep.
We wandered the camp and even up to the edge of camp property–talking constantly–and eventually came back….MUCH later than planned. I imagine we were easily an hour later than we’d planned. Shameful, I know. They were fine, by the way.
As we walked up the wooden steps of the cabin we noticed a piece of paper attached to the door. Our names were on it. It said, WHERE have you BEEN? We have been worried SICK. You said you would be gone for a little bit and it has been over an HOUR. Sincerely, your CABIN.
It is possible they grounded us.
We burst out laughing. I couldn’t have felt more busted than if I had broken curfew as a teenager with my own parents. We quietly opened the door, unsure of who was still awake. One foot in the cabin and Dear Friend’s voice nailed us. “Well look who decided to come back!” She was clearly enjoying this, this role-reversal. A teenage fantasy to put the adult in their life on the other end of a reprimand. Except Dear Friend was trying very hard to keep a straight face.
The photo had brought it all back. I’d forgotten this. I thought it had been about the pictures, but the pictures were what brought back the story. A story that now feels as needed as the photos of my Dear Friend.
And when I wonder if this text will be the last one she sends me, when impending and current sadness hides around the corner, I think I’ll say those same words in my mind and reprimand her. “Where have you been? I have been worried sick.” I will flip it right back at her.
She’ll get it.