We went through elementary and high school together and continued to be friends. Cheryl eventually came under the influence of the powerful and very conservative local Baptist Church which is where our paths began to diverge since I was more interested in the liberal social movements of the day and had long ago given up on conventional churches. She grew into a beautiful, tall, and leggy woman who became a beloved high school guidance counselor after graduating from Belmont College in Nashville, TN.
Our paths happened to cross again in an unusual way. Cheryl, looking as tall, shapely and beautiful as ever, was wearing black tights and a black bra when I happened into the room. We talked briefly and I decided the time had come. I removed my shirt revealing my bra and waited for her response. To my amazement, she stared for a moment and then said, "I can see the good Baptists have gotten hold of you." I was floored and dumbfounded. All I could think was that her comment was a reference to me finally learning some modesty by properly covering myself like every good Baptist lady should.
Our meeting happened in the early hours of the morning this morning. Okay........................I confess...............it was a dream. A dream........but a nice dream nevertheless. I was glad Cheryl finally knew the truth about me. The only thing I wish I had told her is how pretty she always looked and how envious I was of her in the beautiful dresses she wore when I waited for her on the sidewalk in front of her house when we were 6 years old.
The fact is, Cheryl died in 2004 after a brave battle with breast cancer that included becoming paralyzed as the result of the chemo drugs being injected into her spine. She fought a mighty war with the disease and never lost her sense of humor even when she knocked a hole in the wall trying to maneuver in her wheelchair. She said, "If this is my life now, I'll make the best of it." She was so excited when she called me from Sedona, AZ, where a friend had sent her to be healed by the spiritual vortices. She was breathless like a child as she told about the beauty around her. Who knows, maybe the visit to Sedona actually gave her some more time. We wrote cards to each other throughout the time she was sick and signed them "with love". The last time I saw her just days before she died, she was in a truck driven by a friend that pulled up beside my car as I was on my way home after a meeting. The window rolled down and Cheryl was excited and amazed that they had been to the Sonic and she wasn't charged for her ice cream. She said, "Can you believe it! They didn't even charge me!"
So I'm square now with one of my oldest friends. It was time well spent this morning.