Mary Margaret by Peggy Bogaard-Lapp
I was nine years old, and had just moved to a new neighborhood. My parents timed it so I would start fourth grade at the beginning of the school year, so being the new kid might be a little less difficult. I don’t quite remember if it was in class or at the first recess, but I do remember Mary being the first one to approach me and ask me to play. I’m sure we went right to the swings; it was both our favorite, and one of many things we found that we had in common. It turned out that we lived just two blocks away from each other, and right away we started walking home together. We quickly became best friends, and we often spent the night at each others houses. I don’t remember ever having a fight with Mary. She was very easygoing and tried to get along with everyone. I remember her telling me about her family – there were so many names, I couldn’t believe it! She had brothers, half brothers and sisters, and step brothers and sisters, and whenever she talked about them, my head would get dizzy from trying to remember who was who. But I know they all loved each other in their own way. Mary had two younger brothers, who, as I recall, did a lot to bother us. We would chase them off, and run to her room and shut the door – loudly – to let them know we meant it! I never had so much fun, especially since I didn’t have younger siblings. We palyed with barbies, made up games, and jumped rope. Simple things but I remember them well.
Soon it was junior high, and I was needing a friend. Things had soured with the friends I was hanging out with, and Mary reached out to me, inviting me to join her friends at lunch. I was wary at first, after all, who knew if these girls would turn on me, and would they want me to join them? But Mary reassured me that it would be fine. And of course it was. I felt such relief to be welcomed. Out of this group I also made a lifelong friend, Diane. I didn’t spend as much time with Mary but I know there was one night we snuck out of her basement bedroom window and went to the nearby elementary school playground. It was so boring, we ended up sneaking back into her room and making prank phone calls. Ah, the days before caller ID! She wasn’t afraid of getting caught. It seemed that she was always in trouble for something, and not because she did anything bad. Her father did a lot to put her down and make her feel bad. I couldn’t relate to this at all; my dad was so wonderful to me I didn’t understand an adult acting that way. I know she did like coming to my house where it was quiet.
High school started and Mary, Diane and I were tight. I was lucky enough to have a car, so we rode together to school each morning, jamming to the Loverboy 8-track tape that came with the ’76 Capri that my dad had bought me. On Friday nights we cranked it way up and went cruising the local mall, Mary or Diane sitting in the middle on the parking brake in the front seat, calling out to boys and giving crusty looks to girls, our perceived competition. We filled our lives with more fun during that time. But soon high school and all that goes with it pulled us apart for awhile, but by the time we graduated we had reconciled. That is what I always loved about our friendship. We always came back to each other. When my mom died, Mary was there. Then her mom died, and I was there. I got married, then divorced. Mary was there the night I met my husband; she will always be a part of a great memory there! Mary got married, then I remarried. My dad passed away, and I opened the door to see Mary on the front porch. Mary got divorced, then recently remarried. In between, I had a daughter, a year or so later she had a son. We shared a lot with being later moms, and trying to do the best we could without having our own mothers around to help us. Mary was living in Virginia, and I was still in Colorado, and keeping our friendship moving along, with everything else that our lives were filled with, became difficult. It became the once a year phone call, or a post on Facebook when we could catch up. I regret not reaching out to her – in fact she was on my list to call during my Facebook free July. But my fingers did not dial her number. I regret this, because as life shows us, time is always running out. Mary was diagnosed with cancer, and tried to beat it over the past few years. She lost her battle yesterday. I lost my chance to hear her voice one more time.