Do you remember who gave you your first fake I.D.? If you had one, I bet you remember it clearly and are smiling right now at the thought. If you never had one, hang in there…there is a point to my story. My first fake I.D. was from my friend Kristina, who had lived down the street from me since I was in first grade.
Believe it or not, throughout school we were never really friends. She played and hung out at one end of the street while I was at the other. After high school and through mutual friends we became friends. We started hanging out and wondering why we weren’t friends for all those years we’d live down the street from each other.
My friends were all a couple of years older than me, so one night when they planned to go to a bar, one of my friends said Kristina can’t go, so let’s ask her if you can borrow her driver’s license. We were similar looking (kinda-sorta-but-not-really); both of us had long blond hair, were the same build, and had light colored eyes. The biggest difference was that she was a couple of inches shorter than me.
I memorized everything on that driver’s license. No matter what anybody asked me about it, I could answer. But the bouncer at the bar knew it wasn’t my license. Sign your name for me., he had said. Luckily, I studied that I.D. so hard that I thought I could do it and pass. I signed a piece of paper and handed it back over, smirking and feeling confident.
The bouncer looked at the I.D., looked at my signature, then looked back at me and said You spelled your last name wrong. Kristina’s last name was tricky to spell and I screwed it up. Fortunately, he let me in after I promised I wouldn’t drink (which of course I did anyways). I gave her I.D. back to her the next day. I used it several times until another friend who really did look like me gave me her old one.
Kristina passed away last night. She was very sick and I knew the end was near, but it still hurts like hell to lose a friend. She is just 40, and left behind 4 kids. And I can’t help but think: What if it was me? I keep stepping back into her shoes – like I did all those years ago – but this time I’m stepping in emotionally instead of physically.
I keep thinking how do you say goodbye to your children? When you know you are going to die, what do you think about other than your children and family? Do you think of all of the things you will miss, like sitting around with family laughing over an inside joke? Do you think of all those times you went out with friends who you’ve known since you were kids and regret that you didn’t do it more often when you were older? Do you think about how good a cool breeze hitting your face on a hot summer day feels and how you’ll miss it? Do you want to eat all of your favorite foods one last time? Do you start listing the things you always wanted to see/do/feel and wish you had more time? Do you think about how you always took the little things for granted, like hearing your favorite song on the radio?
I wonder if you think about those little things, which in life really are the big things. I hope never to have to know the answers to those questions.
And although Kristina and I lost touch over the years, I am still going to miss her. I am happy to have known her. And I will always have the memory of being a funny, spunky, beautiful young girl named Kristina because she let me use her I.D. It’s a fun memory that I’m glad to share with her.