The Road to 40, but first, my dedication…

Even though it’s my 40th birthday that’s coming up, I dedicate it to my best friend forever. I want to take time to remember her and remember us as I start to dive into this writing project. I love Cheryl Jeanette Hunter…always have, always will. ❤️ ❤️ ❤️ ❤️

The Beginning…

If you’d have told me that on a Monday morning in August of 1992 I would be meeting my best friend for life, I might have been more excited to start school over the summer. I was nervous. Starting junior high at Henderson Junior High. I wasn’t sure what to expect but was sure that it would have to be better than how my last few years of elementary had gone. 

We met in Mrs. Batson’s 7th grade English class. Ignoring Channel 1 for the morning, we introduced ourselves and got to know each other more and more everyday. Discovered we’d both been growing up in the church. Discovered that we both wanted the same things in life- what we knew to be having your life together- a successful career, a fine husband, some kids, a nice house, nice cars…you know, the good life.  We ultimately became each other’s personal cheerleader for each and every milestone and achievement that seemed to inch us closer and closer to that for the next 26 years. 

The beginning Cheryl for me was the round gold framed glasses, the fan bangs and bob haircut, the leadership in school clubs, the fuscia lipstick, the laugh, the three way calls with boys (because I wasn’t supposed to be talking to them), the good stuff of early teen hood…

The Middle…

It seems like a blip in time now but there was a few years we didn’t talk. It wasn’t because we were mad at each other. We just lost connection during those first few years of college. However, I remember it like it was yesterday. I walked into Central’s Hi-Steppers mock tryouts to support my sister and as I sat on the bleachers in she walked. My heart literally skipped a beat. We hugged and beamed and sat beside each other and barely paid attention to our sisters’ tryouts for talking to each other. We exchanged numbers and talked to each other daily thereafter. She introduced me to the college party scene right where I lived even though she had been going to school in another area of the state. I had pledged AKA recently and even though she never pledged its almost as if she lived vicariously through me when we went to those parties. We would dress up together at her apartment and go party and then go eat and then sleep a little and then wake up an hour or two later and go to our respective churches. It was like we never skipped a beat but this time we were getting to live out that freedom of young adulthood we’d always talked about as kids. We thought we were grown, grown…even though we were just baby grown…ha.  She saw me through college, Pharmacy school, marriage, and the addition of kids. For all of it, she was right there. 

The middle Cheryl for me was short skirts at the parties, the micro braids, the property manager, the people gatherer, the truth speaker (even when I didn’t want to hear it)…

The Later…

I remember when she moved to Texas. It had been her dream to live there. She had gotten a management level job and landed a beautiful apartment. When I’d travel for work, I’d go visit her place. I always had my own key to her apartments over the years.  They had become my private oases.  In Texas, she’d have peach Nehi and Flamin Hot Funyuns waiting for me. We’d go to Cafe Brazil and drink tons of delicious coffee. We’d sit and talk for hours. She was so disappointed when she ultimately had to let that life go. 

I also remember when she was in between working and we would use my time traveling for work to talk on the phone for hours. We’d talk about how much our views on life and the good life had changed since 1992. No longer were the house, the husband, the kids, the cars, the career what we identified as the good life; now we wanted what would bring us peace and fulfillment. We knew that it could include some of those aforementioned things but we had seen from experiences that sometimes none of those things brought contentment. When I was down, she encouraged me with scripture. When I was wrong, she corrected me with scripture. I tried to do the same for her. We’d whiskfully dance down memory lane over the phone. I could talk candidly around her. No one else will ever hear some of the things she heard come out of my mouth…ha, ha. She loved me…like real love, free from judgement. 

Although life had gotten busy, we’d try to occasionally get together for coffee and long talks. She’d had a few scary health bouts but God saw fit to bring her through.  I took that for granted. We were both feeling emotionally heavy by Sept 2018 and so when I reached out to her to have some time together for coffee talk, I didn’t think anything different when she said she had something she wanted to share with me. On Sept 11, 2018; I had no idea I was having my last meeting in this life with her. Over coffee that day, she shared with me that she truly felt she was depressed and that she was scared she was going to die. Her words were “Dad was sick and he passed. So I’m thinking, I’ve been sick too. Am I going to pass too?”.  She said these words with tears streaming down her face and gasping for tiny breaths in between some of the words. On the inside, I was crying and gasping too because after all we felt each other’s hurts often. On the outside, I wanted to be the strong one this time. I tried to reassure her that she had a lot left to fulfill here and that we could fix anything that was wrong. Suddenly what was on my mind to bring to the pity party didn’t seem important anymore. When we left each other that day, she lingered. She watched me all the way to my car and even stood there for a minute after I got into my car before she finally walked off. My friend could be prophetic at times. I believe she knew what was coming and she tried to tell me, but I desperately didn’t want it to be so. 

The later Cheryl for me was blond hair, black glasses, cute and sassy outfits for work or for play, wise words, care taking of each other, oh and of course Maxi 🐕

Birthdays…

I don’t think a birthday has gone by between 1992 and 2018 that she and I haven’t called each other…. well except for 2004 when we were mad at each other, you know like real friends are sometimes. I’ve attended a many birthday party for her and helped plan and execute most of them. Even her last birthday party, I remember getting cookies made with her initial on them because she called me for an idea for a cute favor for her guests. On Feb 10 this year, she would have turned 40. We were supposed to celebrate that together. We were supposed to go on a Girls Trip or something. Have a party. I was supposed to call her and sing to her and we were supposed to get dressed. We were supposed to have brunch, eat some cupcakes, drink some champagne. We were supposed to have about 6 cups of delicious coffee between us and set some goals for this decade together. We were supposed to sit and recount all the silly things we did in our teen years, dumb stuff we did in our twenties, and lessons we learned in our thirties. Instead, I thumbed through pics of her in my phone. I sat and cried looking at her picture in my dining room.  I picked up cookies I had made with her initial on them again and I had a great time having dinner with pretty much the same group of folks she’d gathered together on her last birthday here. 

I’d thought about letting my 40th birthday come and go this year just like several of my birthdays have in my 30’s, but I said to myself as she would say “P, you only get one life to live. You’ve bypassed enough stuff that you now look back and wish you’d done differently. You better celebrate like I’m there planning it for you.”

So…this birthday is for us! I love you Friend! I feel pretty sure we’ll have good coffee in heaven because, after all, it is God’s drink too 😂

The birthday journey continues. I’ve decided to reflect on multiple facets of these 40 years of mine. Click below to start…

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6 thoughts on “The Road to 40, but first, my dedication…

  1. Ms. J

    What an intimate tribute to her & you. She would be humbled by it. From this world to the next the physical separation is, but a mortal illusion. Day by day, as the physical separation you feel softens; the spiritual connection grows.
    She is with you still in each moment and milestone. Continue on in what way you need for as long as you need with your memoriam of Cheryl. Love ❤️ J

    1. P. Lo

      I’m just glad she’s the only lifelong friend I’m having to do this tribute for 😘 Thanks girl!

  2. Kia Hines

    I think this was a beautiful tribute to her!! Good job! #imnotcryinguare!! 🥺🥺🥺

    1. P. Lo

      Thanks girl! I’m honored you took the time to read it heart ❤️

  3. Carrie Hunter

    Such a beautiful tribute! I’m late reading this because I’m a dinosaur with email, text etc.. Still trying to catch up with the new millennium traits.
    You made me cry because Cheryl and I had such a close relationship and I still miss her. I know she loved you and would want you to continue to do well and do you! You are such a joy. Much love….

    1. P. Lo

      I’m so happy this was acceptable to you! I was hoping you would find it heartwarming to read. I miss our girl so much heart ❤️

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