I’ve started and stopped this post many times, but I think it’s time to finish it.
On May 14th I lost one of my closest and dearest friends.
In 2013, Erika was diagnosed with a form of leukemia called Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia. She took the diagnosis very hard and spent the first 7 months after her diagnosis in the hospital. She battled infection after infection and couldn’t seem to fight it hard enough to stay well. After 7 months in the hospital, she pushed and was able to go home. It was a hard road to remission but it worked. She worked on being strong and getting better the last 5 years, but it was tough. She struggled and fought all the way.
In March of 2018, she called me with news having to do with a friend’s passing and then let me know that her leukemia had come back, as well. She was strong when she told me. She was optimistic and told me she was going to start chemo on Monday, two days later. We met up for lunch the day before her chemo and she seemed in good spirits, ready to battle. She stayed in the hospital for a month, as scheduled and returned home to wait on her next chemo stay. During her second round of chemo in the hospital, there were complications and she had a stroke and wasn’t able to come back from it.
I only write these details down because I don’t ever want to forget them. These are things that make me realize that she was one of the strongest people that I knew. She went through so much and I wasn’t even there for everything. She fought for her friends and her family. She knew she needed to be strong for them.
Something else I don’t want to forget is what my friendship with her was and will always be. I loved Erika because we were the same and different. We really had different personalities, but we loved the same things. We loved being silly and just talking about everything. She was a caring, nurturing person who always took care of others. Her home was always open to friends and family. In college, more often than not, there would be people sprawled out on her apartment floor just because we stayed up to late talking and it was just easier to sleep over. She loved the feeling she got from her loved ones being close.
So, how did I meet Erika? During my first few college days in San Marcos, I met Adrian through my friend, Cheeze. Adrian became my friend because he was also a music major at SWT. He introduced me to his girlfriend, Erika, and we hit it off from there. It was a pretty instant friendship. As I went to college with them, I spent a lot of time with Erika. I think in college, you rely on your friends to help get you through some of the scary days of being away from your hometown and I think Erika and I did this for each other. We spent a lot of time together just enjoying each other’s company. Whether it was just driving around in my little blue ranger or going to visit Adrian at Wal-Mart or even just watching really dumb movies, over and over again…we just clicked. We watched Zoolander and Drumline…a lot. We just got along. When I moved away, it didn’t change. We didn’t see each other as much, but we planned trips to see her and always talked on the phone. Our relationship was special because it felt like we grew up together. I think the time you spend in college is a rare time that you get to know what type of adult you are/want to become and you hope to surround yourself with friends that will stay in your life for as long as they can. This is the time that you use to grow and become someone that you can be proud of. I know the friendship I had with Erika encompassed all the traits that I thought were meaningful to have in a friendship. She was my person. I knew we would be friends for life.
This was our friendship for 16 years. We saw each other through so much. We were in each others’ lives as we went through boyfriends, graduations, engagements, weddings, a baby, a couple of apartments rented, a couple of houses bought, jobs, careers, a lot of sleepovers, lots of friends’ weddings, bridesmaid’s dresses, a lot of breakfast tacos, lunches, dinners, snacks, movies, who-knows-how- many miles driven in who-knows-how-many vehicles, towns visited, pictures taken, late night talks, all-night swimming, late night laundry, creepy boys’ feet from across the complex, late night phone calls, crying about boys, crying about husbands, laughing at anything and everything, bird nests in our plants, lots of care packages, so much music, falling asleep on sofas, too many margaritas, my clumsiness, a mugging, burnt cupcakes, Hastings, the firefighters, open bars, flip-flops at Grin’s restaurant, our ice skating across a car wash, the two boys upstairs, the bus stop, and last, but certainly not least, her hate for the song With You by Jessica Simpson.
I miss her very much.