We met in 6th grade at my church. I used to always talk to her and ask her if she wanted to come to my house or something, to spend the night, but she'd always say she was grounded and she wasn't allowed to come over. I kept asking though...for a while. Eventually I guess I just figured things wouldn't work out.
For a few years, we sang in choir together - she was an alto and I was a soprano. I remember everyone telling her she had this amazing voice but personally I didn't agree...I thought her voice was good but it sounded really nasally like a pop star.
In the time we sang in choir together, we ended up going on one summer trip together. We weren't rooming together, but her host family invited my roomate and me to hang out for the night...I remember watching a movie and taking pictures with her in them.
During the trip, I remember everyone calling her "Laney" and this one guy (who hated me) nicknamed her Booty and she called him Pookie...it was their inside joke. Elaine was always really pretty; it kind of made me jealous that everyone paid so much attention to her on the trip. She was always the popular girl, the one I could have become friends with, but never did.
I used to talk to my best friend Bobbi all the time, who knew Elaine because they were neighbors, but never really liked her. We used to talk on the phone sometimes about how Elaine annoyed us because she was so preppy and had a kind of stuck-up attitude. I always thought she was pretty but Bobbi didn't really think she was.
Then, in ninth grade, I ended up being in her chorus class. The funny thing was, the teacher put Elaine on 1st soprano (as high as you can get) and I remember her always complaining about how the part didn't suit her voice. Since she wasn't exactly a really studious person, I think Elaine skipped one of our concerts (even though it was for a grade) just because she didn't feel like going. She was always a bit more pessimistic about things, but she was never mean to me.
The day I got the phone call was a huge shock. It came from Bobbi and it was right before school was about to start last year. Bobbi asked me if I'd "heard about Elaine?" giving me a hint that something bad had happened. She told me Elaine was at a party and someone had brought a gun and shot her. According to the newspapers, the guy was 21, and was just "playing" around with the gun and it was an "accident" but later I heard that he might have been her boyfriend.
I never did get to go to the funeral because it was during school. A lot of my friends went though and they all got keychains with her picture. I felt horrible for a while after that - I would go to bed crying - because it just didn't seem fair. She was the same age as me - too young to die.
Later I found out that things had been going on in Elaine's life that most people didn't know about. She had been going to a lot of parties (I think she drank a lot) and she just wasn't headed down the right path. I remember overhearing someone say once how they wished they could have helped her, done something anything, to keep her alive. After all, your church is supposed to be made up of people who will be there for you no matter what.
Now when I think about it, I don't always cry. But it hurts inside to know that she's gone. And it makes me wish I hadn't said the things I did about her. When she was alive, I never saw the positive side of her - I always picked out her faults. I wish I could take everything back; I wish I had been better friends with her. But I wasn't. All I can do is remember, when I start say a bunch of crap about anyone else, that I don't want them to die like she did. No matter how much I can't stand a person, I don't think they deserve to die.
So I guess, in the scheme of things, Elaine's death made me wiser. Now I know how precious time is, and death is never far away. Before Elaine, no one I was close to had died before (except my grandparents when I was five or six). Elaine made me realize that all you can do is make the most of every moment you have.