Friday, December 11, 2009

dear jelena,

i remember the day we met.. more than 5 yrs ago. my life was more than a little crazy. i was taking over a huge business that i probably had no business running.. based on my experience - not to mention the stress in my personal life. everything was new to me. the job. the city. the single parent thing. i missed my friends and all the familiar things about my old life.. dont get me wrong. it wasnt all bad. after all, i had chosen all the change and i certainly wasnt regretful but finding a real friend, another relationship, certainly wasnt priority. thats what made ours special. it wasnt work. technically i was your boss, but it felt more like we were partners in crime. =) you were always willing to stay late and help me with anything. i remember crying on your shoulder when you happened to be in my office for a meltdown or two {or ten ;)}. things were good in your life at the time and you were more than willing to be there for me. having moved here from abroad only a few short years before, after marrying the american man of your dreams and you didnt have many friends outside of work either. that definitely helped to build our bond but it wasnt what drew me to you. you were always so thoughtful. picking up lunch when you knew i hadnt had a free minute to go pick something up myself.. offering to help with the little kid just because.. and always helping out with the demanding busy work even when your sales might suffer. we made it through that first christmas and inventory together in the big D at the big D. of course its a huge store.. and i do remember most of the management, but it would be work for me to drudge up the last names of any other associate in my dept. in fact, im certain, near impossible.

by the end of january things were looking up. things in my life were settling in and i was offered a wonderful position with an amazing retailer down the hall.. but things in your life were turning upside down just as quickly as mine was evening out. a bitter divorce no one saw coming. threats of deportation. struggles with immigration i could only imagine. it was my turn to be there for you and i was gladly up to the task. we moved down the hall to that other retailer together. partners in crime once again. we found a place for you to live, albeit not at all what i would chose for you. the offer stood for you to live with us but the last thing you wanted to do was 'disrupt our home when we had just found our groove' {the funny thing is i can still hear you saying those words with that ridiculously thick accent.. i always loved the way you thought you were overcoming it tho it never changed - remember that accent reduction class you took - that makes me smile through tears every time i think of it.} anyway, you were determined to make it on your own and prove, only to yourself of course, that you were worthy to be here and that you could make it by yourself. not long after you filed for a divorce, i got engaged. and you were so happy for me. because thats who you were. our work life didnt change much.. we had lunch together and an occasional girls night. i drove you home from work to give you a break from public transportation a couple of days a week. you were grateful.. though you would never complain about the bus. we planned a little wedding together. you helped me pick out, well, everything, {while we should have been working =)}. another christmas and inventory passed. you always bought me gifts for both. spa gift certificates. completely selfless. we celebrated birthdays over dinners. we celebrated lunches just because we didnt feel guilty taking them.. =) i told you we were expecting a new baby long before i told anyone else in the store, just about the time your divorce was final. and you were happy for me. because thats who you were. you got your own apartment and bought a car! not to mention full citizenship after many hours of studying and learning things about this country i definitely didnt know {all while we should have been working =)}. things were good for both of us. there was always the gloom of a career in commission sales that could get you down but things were mostly good.

the baby was born in august and you were instantly his biggest fan. volunteering to babysit, even sleepover, ANYTIME. kennedy couldnt have been more pleased to spend time with you. she told me the funniest story just the other day about 'teaching you' to use the radio in your new car. im glad she has those fun memories with you. you made a trip home to see your family for the first time in SO long and i was SO proud of you for going. you were more help with the kids than any other friend {well.. becky might argue with that} and i could not have been more thankful to have you in my life. i returned to work from my maternity leave during the busiest time of year and over the next two months we discussed, almost daily, the fact that i was planning to leave the company to stay home when the holidays and inventory were over. you were always supportive and understanding yet reserved and leery. knowing that our friendship would surely suffer if we didnt see each other everyday like we had for more than two and a half years. even telling me that you couldnt make it there with out me. i remember assuring you that you would be fine. after all, you had overcome so much on your own.

that first year and a half we did a great job of chatting on the phone. meeting up for lunch once in a while. emailing. i started this blog.. and you always kept up with my musings. then, of course, the holidays would roll around and every ones life would get so much busier. we didnt talk too many times in 2009. im very sad about that. not that we were at odds at all.. just busy living separated lives. and i regret that so now. the last time i talked to you, you were excited about a new car and taking another trip home to see your family. =)


its so hard for me to imagine that you are gone. i will always wish that we had kept in better touch. that i had done a better job of keeping in touch. my heart is completely broken that you didnt call me before you made up your mind. im not sure i will ever understand why or how this happened.. but after a month of thinking of you everyday - sometimes the sweet moments i remember between you and the kids.. sometimes the laughing til we cried just because we were tired at the store.. sometimes imagining how lonely you must have been in those last moments.. sometimes selfishly wondering if you thought of me and if those thoughts brought a smile to your face or made the lonely harder.. after a month of trying to find a way to say goodbye and make sure your life has meaning - at least in mine - im writing to you to say thank you. thank you for nudge to take better care of my friendships. thank you for showing me how to care about people selflessly. and thank you for being my friend. i will miss you forever. rest in peace sweet jelena. i hope you have a merry christmas with your mom and dad this year. you deserve it.

4 comments:

The Leonard Four said...

oh wow, jammi...i'm so sorry for your loss. i'm sending good thoughts your way.

Amy O'Connor said...

it sounds like she was a great friend to you and you miss her dearly. i'm sure she's watching you now and is happy that you are remembering the good times you did have together.

Anonymous said...

James,
I wrote a comment but then it wouldn't post.

This is a beautiful tribute to your friend. Please don't feel bad that you weren't in touch more in the past year. That's just how life is, and I'm sure that she knew how much you loved and cared for her.

You are such a caring person and a wonderful friend. Your words are full of love. Cherish your memories.

Jenny said...

Just read this today. I am proud of you for writing this, because I know it must have been very hard to type through your tears. Such a lovely tribute to your dear, sweet friend. Love you!