Thursday, December 29, 2005
Today is Fern’s birthday. She would have been 47 years old.
We met in college. My cousin Cindy introduced us. She had told me she met this amazing girl during orientation, and knew we would be best friends. I was skeptical, of course. I barely knew myself at that point, and had a hard time believing Cindy could pick a stranger from a crowd and know I would love her.
It took exactly one meeting for Fern and I to figure out that Cindy was right. Within minutes, we had collapsed into one another in laughter and become best friends. It took twenty-five years for fate to tear us apart.
We had a big, messy, complicated friendship all those years. Fern could be as demanding as she was funny, as stubborn as she was charming. But she changed me forever. And while she wasn’t always the easiest person to be friends with, she was fiercely loyal, and I never knew a friend could love me so much or believe in me or deeply. Some people said Fern had magic, and I think they were right.
When I got the news that Fern had non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, I was confident she could beat it, as I couldn’t imagine there was any force on Earth stronger than her. But I was wrong. And in summer 2002, Fern was gone.
I still think about Fern a lot, and sometimes I consider trying to write about her—I mean really write about her. So far, though, I either haven’t enough talent or enough distance to capture her spirit on paper. The closest I’ve come is to write about my grief, which I did in a Flashquake piece called “How to Say Good-Bye to Fern.”
When we first met, Fern and I thought we were mirror images of one another. But over the years we came to learn that we were as different as we were alike. Take spirituality, for example. Fern was a believer. I remain a skeptic. So even though she trusted in reincarnation with all her heart, I’m still not so sure. I do know, though, that if anyone could find a way to make sure their spirit sticks around, it would be Fern.
So my darling friend, if you’re out there somewhere, Happy Birthday. I miss you so very much.
1/26/07 - EDITED TO ADD:
My site meter shows that people sometimes find their way to this blog because they typed Fern's name into a search engine. This makes me smile, because I know it would mean so much to Fern to know she's still thought about. If you'd like, feel free to treat this blog post as an ongoing memorial. You can share a comment about Fern--some memory or just a note on how you met or what she meant to you--by clicking on "comments," below.