(Cross-posted from Daydream Believer, since y’all said you’re cool with it. And now with more LJ-cut tags!)
I have this scar on my right hand. It’s not a huge scar–it’s about a half-inch long, nestled between my second and third knuckles–but it’s a memorable one. I got it when I was sixteen, on a sunny Friday morning in the fall. School was out that day, for a teacher’s meeting or something along those lines. My friends and I, being teenage girls of driving age, decided to take ourselves to the mall.
That morning, my friend Stacey picked me up in her car. I’m not sure why she ended up being the designated driver for that day. I had my license, but I wasn’t yet allowed to drive as far as Tulsa. I’m not sure what kind of insane troll logic convinced my parents that it was okay for another newly licensed sixteen year old to drive me that far instead, but they let me go. I’m not sure why Tess, the third member of our little party, didn’t drive, but I suspect it was because we were too far out of her way, and it made more sense for us to pick her up on the way into town.
So there we were, Stacey in the driver’s seat, me riding shotgun, traveling back country roads on the way to pick up Tess. We were about a quarter of a mile down a slippery gravel road when Stacey announced her famous last words, “Watch this!”
I’m still not sure what she was trying to do. Was she trying to do donuts in the gravel? Did she just want to make the car fishtail enough to get a good scare out of me and make me scream? I’m not sure even she knew for sure. There’s no telling. We were sixteen and stupid.
The car did donuts all right. We both screamed our lungs out as it turned and turned, and the screaming went up to eleven when the car flipped over and then continued to spin. Thankfully, I’ve always been a stickler for wearing my seat belt. Stacey didn’t, though. Somewhere in all that upside down spinning, she was launched across my lap, head first toward the passenger window. Somehow, I got my hand up in time to catch her head and shield it from the blow. My hand busted through the glass. Her head was fine.
We were both incredibly blessed to have walked–well, more like staggered–away from that wreck. The car was totaled, and the roof on her side was completely caved in. We were both uninjured, save for the cut on my hand, which I didn’t even notice until after we’d walked to a nearby house to call for help and the nice lady who lived there took me in the bathroom to clean all the bits of broken glass and gravel out of it.
We didn’t make it to the mall that day. My mom came to get me, and took me to the emergency room for stitches. We picked up Tess along the way. Then afterward, the three of us met back up at my house to ponder how oh my God we almost DIED and we were so LUCKY, and to call all of our other friends and tell them what happened to us. It was all so dramatic and angsty.
But seriously: I hardly even notice the scar anymore, but when I do, I think about Stacey, and I wonder if I saved her life. At the very least, I saved her from what could have been a pretty serious head injury.
Last night I stared at my scarred hand in dazed confusion after getting the news that the life it might have saved was brutally taken by an abusive boyfriend, who then took his own life.
Stacey and I had a weird friendship back in high school. If you had asked me yesterday, before I heard the news, I would have flippantly said that we were more frenemies than actual friends. We fought all the time. We both said mean things to and about each other. She was a big, strong girl, and she had a tendency to use her size and strength to her advantage, and I was pretty easy to push around back then. She might casually shove me into a row of lockers because she didn’t like something I said, and then turn around and invite me over to her house and be utterly confounded at why I wouldn’t want to go. To her, all of that was just playing around, and she really didn’t know her own strength.
We drifted apart after high school, as our lives took different paths. As our friendship grew more distant, it became easier to remember the fighting and the shoving, and forget about all of the stuff in between. I’m ashamed to say that it wasn’t until last night, as I read the news stories and the comments about her and her recent life on the news station’s message board, that I began to remember again the good times. Despite our differences, she was a loyal friend who always had my back. She might have knocked me around, but she also saved me from numerous ass-kickings just by showing up. Like I said, she was a big, strong girl. The other girls tended to be afraid of what she could do to them, and usually backed off when it became apparent that they’d have to go through Stacey to get to me.
The last I’d heard of her, she had finished medical training and had a good job as a medical assistant at our home town hospital, and her life was on a really good track. I can’t imagine what happened that things ended this way for her. But I’m sorry I was no longer a friend to her. I’m sorry I no longer had her back.
Stacey was a good friend, in her way. She was also a good mother, a good daughter and a good sister. I believe she did the best she could. I’m so sorry things got so hard for her toward the end. I hope and pray that now she’s finding rest.