See the kid in that picture? That’s me, circa 1975 or so. See the hot chick fixin’ to lay a big ol’ smacker on me? That’s my godmother. I couldn’t pronounce the name “Linda” as a toddler so I just called her La. Even after I learned how to talk, that was my name for her, and that’s who she’s always been to me.
Here’s another picture of me and La. I asked her about it — she thought it was Virginia Beach.
I had the hugest crush on her growing up. I mean, look at those mischievous eyes, that radiant smile! How could I not? Okay, one more pic…
That’s Mom and La at their high school graduation. Sorry for the quality of the photo.
La was a pretty big part of the first few years of my life, when Mom was trying to get her bearings as a single mom, then as a military mom. The military kinda changed things a bit. We moved out to Virginia, and La came to visit at least once. Then we moved to Pensacola and back to Illinois when my Dad deployed overseas, and I got to see La again — not NEARLY as much as I had before, but it was still good to see her, even if occasionally. Over the years, life continued this trend, pulling us and La — and then even me and my Mom — in different directions, but La always held a special place in our hearts.
I haven’t seen La in person since before I graduated high school, but thanks to the wonders of Facebook, I recently got back in touch with her, and through me, so did my Mom. We weren’t in each other’s lives again, per se, but we were adjacent, and I found that particularly cool, especially after all this time.
So when I hadn’t had a Facebook post from La in a few weeks, I hadn’t thought anything of it. But Mom had. She’s a newcomer to Facebook, so she picked up on things going on with La that I hadn’t given much thought to. I knew she’d had a run-in with cancer, but I’d assumed that since she’d beat it, it’d stay beaten.
Mom didn’t. She, the newcomer to Facebook, didn’t have a timeline full of drivel. She still has only a few friends, La being one of them, so she noticed when La had stopped posting, and when her daughter had posted in her place, and when everybody had said they were praying for her. Mom had thought that the cancer had ramped up, so she asked me a couple times to check up on La, to see how she was doing. True to form, I forgot. And forgot again. I could blame life getting in the way, but hey — I’ve got Facebook. That should be all the excuse I need to pop over to La’s page and see what’s what, right?
Turns out that La went home to be with the Lord on May 15th, best as I can tell. And here it is June 12th. And I’m just now finding out. I would’ve known the day of, had I paid attention.
She was there when I fell out of a three-story window and came away with my life and a broken leg. She signed my cast, quipping about how little boys can bounce — which, incidentally, is a large reason why I still have that cast (don’t judge me, hehe). In 2016, on my birthday, I was recovering from open heart surgery when she sent me the following birthday greeting… “I’m so glad that your surgery went so well for you. Looks like this WILL be a great new year/new life for you. Probably one of the best bday gifts you could have received this year!” And indeed it was! When I found her on Facebook in 2013, she told me, “Reconnecting with you– and being called, “La”, again, has been one of the highlights of my year this year. Please send my love and hugs to your mom for me, too, will you?”
She was best friends with my mother, but she always made me feel included — not just part of a “package deal”. The two times in my life that I’d been the closest to death, and she took time out of her life to make mine a little brighter. I don’t have many regrets in life, but not keeping up with her like I ought to is definitely one of them. My prayers go out to her son Caleb, her daughter Heather, her brother Chris, and so many others who I’ve never met before but, like me, have been indelibly marked by her presence in their lives. She really was something, and will be missed.
Love you, La. Give my love to Grandma. I’m sure that was a wonderful reunion 🙂