Monday, October 06, 2008

My Friend Michelle

Throughout junior high and high school, I was friends with a girl named Michelle. I think I got to know her through some other friends of mine, and we soon hit it off. During my freshman year, I invited her to attend youth group with me. She ended up attending our church, and becoming a strong part of the youth group for our entire high school years. After high school, we quickly lost touch, as does often happen when one goes off to college. And truth be told, I think I probably formed deeper friendships in college. But that never minimized my friendships in high school. Those girls were important to me, and a huge part of my youth; something which helped shape who I am today.

Fast forward 15 years. (Yikes, has it really been that long?) I decided to join facebook about a year ago, and it's been a wonderful way to reconnect with old friends. Michelle was one of those friends that I found rather quickly. We started chatting on the website, exchanged Christmas cards, and caught up with all that had happened since high school. Michelle started to share with me a lot of her life's struggles, hurts, and pains. I knew she was troubled, and it seemed that she'd been that way all of her adult life. Actually, she struggled with depression in high school, and it never seemed to go away. I tried to be an encouragement to her, and she seemed grateful for our renewed friendship. But last Wednesday, Michelle decided she'd had enough pain. She chose to end her life. I got the phone call from a mutual friend, one whom I'd reconnected with on facebook as well. Although I wasn't surprised, I was certainly shocked. I was flooded with emotions and memories, all at the same time. I couldn't think clearly; all I could picture was the face of my high school friend, a face I wouldn't get the chance to see again. And it made me terribly sad. I had huge feelings of remorse, wishing there was something more I could've done. But even though my heart hurts for her, my head knows that isn't true. I did all that I could do, and she made her decision.

If there is a silver lining in all of this, it's the numerous friends that I have reconnected with. I can think of at least 10 people that I hadn't really talked to in years. And now we're reconnecting, comforting each other, remembering the painful and the good. A few of these friends were everything to me in high school, and we've had the chance to let each other know what should've been said back then..."You were so important to me, and I cared about you."

And so, as I think back on Michelle, I'm choosing to remember the memories that I had with her. The 8th grade class trip to Cedar Pointe. Carmen, DC Talk, and Al Denson concerts. A mission trip to Chicago, which was my first exposure to Moody, my alma mater. Youth group retreats. Singing in the high school choir during Festival of Lights at church. The fact that Michelle was tone deaf and had no rhythm (something I found out while we were recording ourselves singing "The Greatest Love of All" at Cedar Pointe. Cheesy, I know!). All of the many encouraging notes and scriptures that Michelle wrote out for me every time I left for a mission trip. Building the MADD float for the high school homecoming parade. Football games. Sharing a locker. The list goes on. Thanks for the friendship and the memories, Michelle. I'll miss you.


Sammy said...

Melissa, I'm so so sorry!! I love you!

michelle collazo said...

wow. i'm so sorry to hear are in my prayers, as well as michelle's family.

Beckie Kloostra Kingins said...

I am very saddened to read this about Michelle - I was just recently looking for her on Facebook.

Very shocked and sad indeed. :(