Friend #54: Cathleen (and Jason and Benjamin)

After resting at home in St. Louis for a few days, I emerged from the cocoon to begin visiting my hometown friends.  First on the list was long-time friend Cathleen, along with husband Jason and adorable son Benjamin, who invited me over for breakfast on Saturday, July 16th.  As Cathleen and I thought about it, we realized we’ve known each other almost all our lives.  We grew up going to the same church, which we both attended in infancy, so we’ve probably been playing together since before we could walk.  And what’s interesting about my friendship with Cathleen is that I’ve known her in several different contexts.

Though we grew up seeing each other once a week, we didn’t go to the same elementary school.  It wasn’t until junior high that we became better friends.  We were in band together, and Cathleen and I, along with Mindy from Minneapolis, comprised the only women on brass instruments (trumpet for them, French horn for me), which is a bond when all the other people surrounding us were junior high boys.

It was also during that time that Cathleen and a few other friends and I would eat lunch together, and it very well could have saved my life.  I had a friendship debacle at the very beginning of 7th grade which utterly crushed me.  At the time, I felt like I had no friends, and that thought defined my world.  I became depressed and sometimes contemplated ending my life.  But I had Cathleen and another friend Abbie to sit with at lunch, and it made a big difference in my ability to make it through that tough time.  So Cathleen and Abbie and I would sit in a corner of the lunch room by the windows and talk about boys and school and other people.  I would eat my daily cuisine of French fries, chocolate chip cookies, and Clear Pepsi (yes, really).  I certainly did not make good choices when it came to what I ate, but I made a great choice in clinging to Cathleen that year.  She is a true and loyal friend and has been ever since.

Junior high band became all-consuming high school marching band for both Cathleen and me, so we were around each other a lot.  She, self-admittedly, was often in relationships, so we weren’t always close, but she is a staple in so many of my memories from that time.  At the end of senior year, Cathleen invited me to join a choir she sang in, and we traveled from St. Louis through Cleveland to New York City and sang at St. John the Divine cathedral.  It was an unforgettable experience.

Cathleen went to college in Illinois, where she studied engineering and met Jason.  I got to meet Jason at our 10-year high school reunion and was glad to have more time to get to know him over breakfast.  After we ate, Benjamin was getting a bit stir crazy, so we went outside, and I pushed him in the swing while we all continued our conversation.  It felt so normal, like we did it all the time and I would be back the next week.  I did get to see Cathleen soon after when she visited California on business and I was back in Los Angeles.  It was such a treat, and it became even more clear to me that no matter where I am or how much time has passed, I will always have a friend in Cathleen.


2 Responses

  1. Ann, thank you so much for all of the kind words and insight into your experiences in junior high. If only I was the person I am now when I was in junior high, I would have been less consumed with myself and my own world and more attentive to your thoughts and concerns, and for that I am sorry. I am blessed and honored to have you as my friend. Keep in touch. Love, Cathleen

    • Oh friend! No apology necessary at all! I think it’s too much to ask any seventh grader to not be narcissistic…’s all of our jobs to be self-absorbed at that age. I was too! Heck, I still am now! 🙂 But it was what you did by just being you just being my friend that did so much to keep me sane during that time. You did more than enough. And I am so grateful. And I’m grateful to STILL count you among my friends to this day and hopefully for many days and years to come.

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