Back when I was a senior in high school, I reserved the entire inside front cover of my yearbook for my good friend Patti. We had met back in summer camp at the age of 8, and continued to see each other during July and August, year after year.
Our friendship grew closer still when we both ended up at the Bronx High School of Science and we were able to hang out a little more frequently than just two months a year. Many a night was spent together laughing, as our group of friends would gather for a sleepover at her boyfriend Dave’s apartment in Manhattan. Great memories!
As friends sometimes do, we drifted apart for a time, but always tried to keep each other in the loop about what we were up to as we both found our way back to NYC after our college years. Unfortunately, Patti got very sick with cancer, and as was her personality, didn’t want to burden others with her problems, so I was completely unaware of the seriousness of her illness until a few years ago after she had already been moved into a hospice to wait out the inevitable.
Her best friend, Debbie (who also was a familiar face from those days at Mid-Queens Summer Camp) told me she had no idea that Patti and I had essentially lost touch, because Patti apparently kept herself in the loop about my life- my marriage, the birth of my son… she simply enjoyed these things from afar, not wanting to burden me with her problems.
So it was with great sadness that we learned of her passing in October of 2007. I’m far too young to be attending the funerals of dear friends, and the memorial service for Patti was the first (and hopefully, the last for quite some time). From the category of making lemons out of lemonade, I am now much closer with my friends from that time than I was before Patti’s passing, so for that I am thankful, yet each August 10 - Patti’s birthday - will bring with it that sense of loss all over again.
And so I sit here looking at the inside cover of my yearbook – where Patti had listed a whole bunch of memories that we had shared over the years… and the following words that she closed with:
“When I remember growing up, camp, high school, friends, I’ll think back and smile knowing that you have all the same memories. Keep them forever. Much love, Patricia (Patti)”
And today especially, I take some small solace that I do have these memories…
“Happy Birthday, Patti. And give my apologies to Mr. Novak…”
Don’t worry if you don’t get that inside joke… that one’s between the two of us.