My sleep patterns have been messed up....again. Running on about 3-4 hours a night and crashing during the day. Monday night was July the 4th, and as customary several people were over for a cookout and late fireworks. No sleep again Tuesday night and Wednesday made the two and a half hour haul with my daughter to take Tim's new wheelchair to Atlanta to begin the process of getting him ready to drive again. I was home by 2:30 and grateful for a couple of hours to nap before time to go get my son.
It took approximately 2.6 seconds for me to go unconscious. I always turn my phone on vibrate to not be awakened, however, at about 3:15 the constant and repetitive vibrations got my attention. One eye opened, I tried to read all of the messages coming through my phone. All of them saying the same thing...."Did you hear about Tori?" "What happened to Tori?" "When did you talk to Tori last?" I know more than one Tori. But had only one of them in common with the people blowing up my cell phone.
The immediate conversations confirmed it. She was gone. All I could do was sit in disbelief. My childhood friend. Who lived around the corner from me. Who sat behind me in many classes. Whose smile lit up anyone and everyone who came into contact with her. My mind flashed back to high school. Cheerleading tryouts were coming up. I didn't believe in myself at all. She practiced with me, she believed in me, she encouraged me. And the day before tryouts the only thing that consumed me was rejection from everyone else. I didn't try out.
A few years after we graduated we began working in the same hospital taking care of the same patients in the ICU. We got to know each other all over again...as adults, not children. The night shifts we worked were so much fun. I missed her so much when I moved away. Before the internet. Before Facebook.
About a year and a half ago we reconnected...so many laughs. So many nights of helping each other through rough times. Her new teenage girl...mine who had just graduated. Encouraging each other and praying for each other. When I discovered I had multiple tumors and had a massive surgery last summer she stayed in touch constantly. Through Tim's last year and a half she encouraged me. And with last minute planning last summer, I was able to reunite with her and a couple of other high school friends for an afternoon of fun and laughter. She radiated. As if we were all 16 again. Her love for her family and the Lord was beaming. Her happiness that we had all reconnected was uplifting. I was so glad too. What an impact she had on my life. And she never even knew it. I am just one of so many.
I posted the picture of the three of us in her memory. I tagged her facebook page with it. Moments later her name popped up with an entry. Her 13 year old daughter was writing on her wall...I miss you and love you so much Mommy! Love, Natalie. I have never met Nat, although I know her quite well through her mother. I encouraged her as best I could...to continue her mother's legacy. Moments later, Tori's FB wall photo changed....to the picture of the three of us on that day last summer. Bright eyes, big smiles, arms wrapped around each other. That is how I choose to remember her.
Losing someone close to you far too early always throws a different perspective on things. They buried her today. Across the country. So many shedding tears for an angel that is in Heaven with her beloved sister and mother that she has mourned over so much. What legacy will I leave behind? I hope it comes close to hers. How about you? What is your legacy?
I miss you, my friend. I will never ever stop praying for your husband and children. I look forward to our final reunion.