I moved to Shrewsbury when I was 12, after living in England for 3 and a half years. Jen and I were in the same homeroom in the 6th grade and we became instant friends. She stood by me in Middle School when I struggled with depression and had low self-esteem. In High School, I would escape to her house to get away from my mother. I would stay from Friday night to Sunday night. Sometimes I would purposely skip my bus and have Jen forge a note in my mother’s handwriting to ride her bus home. We would hang out with Grandma Hess watching Jerry Springer and Maury. We were in Indoor Colorguard and Concert Choir together. We went on choir trips together and participated in competitions that earned awards for our school. Every Friday night, we’d go to the Y and “Jen’s Posse” would hang out. We’d pass notes in class and sign them with LYLAS-Love Ya Like A Sis.
I remember when Aunt Judy took us shopping at the malls in York. And Judy told me that “when we go shopping, we go shopping”. Jen and I went to various clothing stores and bought a variety of thongs. That was our idea of getting into trouble because my mother hated them. Judy bought some fruit from a stand on the side of the road and put it the back seat of her car, next to where I was sitting. Judy had this tiny purple car and the fruit keep falling on me, so Jen sat in the back seat with me and held up the fruit crates so they wouldn’t fall on me. I was pressed up against the window, but I was safe. She always found small ways to help me and take care of me like that.
When her second kidney failed in December 2005, I offered her my kidney and she looked me in the eyes and said, “I would never let you risk your life for me.” She was so brave. She was faced with dialysis 3 times a week, a restricted diet, and lots of medication. She never let any of it bring her down. She lived her life on her own terms and to the fullest. She was the life of every party. I remember we spent 4 hours practicing the Cha-Cha slide in her kitchen so that we could be the leaders of the dance at one of her birthday parties. I still can’t do all the moves right. When I graduated college, she threw a bonfire party for me and threatened everyone who came to make sure it was drama-free.
She would always give me advice and I hardly ever listened to her, but she was always right. She was my partner in crime; we were always getting into trouble together. We had our fights, but they only made our friendship stronger. She taught me many things about life and love. She was more than my best friend; she was a sister to me. I know she will continue to teach me and test me every day. I love you forever gurl. I’ll never forget you. One day we’ll be reunited and we’ll cause trouble together once more.