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A Tribute To A Childhood Friend

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You were one of my very first friends. Nervous outside on the playground, I remember your smile so vividly. It was the kind of smile that made you believe everything was going to be okay. Warm and welcoming, your 5 year old smile would do until I was back with my Mommy again. I’d follow that smile through grade school, always wanting to be near you. You had that kind of magnetism and energy. Your personality was big too, just like your heart. Remember our 6th Grade talent show when you played the piano while I sang my solo? I don’t remember what the song was, something from Les Mis, probably. God your fingers graced a piano so effortlessly. Your lessons were before mine at Mr. and Mrs. McLaughlin’s house and I was always jealous of how easy it came to you (while I struggled to get my forefinger over my thumb on the keys.) I can see you now, walking confidently towards the piano while I waited on stage. You sat down and gave me a knowing nod; it told me I’d be ok, just like that first day in Kindergarten. Really babe, you should have been the one singing. Your voice was such a gift.

We came up with the most ridiculous scenarios, you and I. Our imaginations ran wild. We’d listen to music and dress up and pretend- smoke pencils together. Because that’s what you’d do at Woodstock or a Beetles concert, right? I learned so much from you. In middle school I went to you when I needed guidance. You always followed up. Together we sang the National Anthem before High School basketball games. I would meet you at center court, you bounding across the gym in your cheerleader outfit with that big beautiful smile. The one I remember. You should have sang that Anthem alone, your voice was so much better than mine. Instead you took the lower octave (effortlessly of course) to make sure my voice sounded better. You were sweet like that, my love.

Later we would check in with each other. You continued to be my champion. You asked me about writing, you wanted to publish a book. I read some of what you had wrote and again realized you were so far ahead of your time. You always told me my writing was great, I knew yours was better.

Hey Mon, remember when we baked brownies at your house and they got stuck to the pan? You didn’t want to wash it and neither did I so you marched out back and threw that pan in the bushes. I’ll never forget the ceremonial dance you did for that pan afterwards. Later I’ll use that reference on your Facebook page, begging you to throw Cancer out in the bushes.

I was always in awe of you, Monica O’Leary. I will miss your big spirit, your big personality, and your big smile. I will never let our memories die, as long as I can. Rest in peace, sweet friend.

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