I've been on a minor archaeological dig through many boxes and bins in what I call my craft/computer room. This room was originally my baby boy's. As soon as my sons moved away from home, I dove into their space and made it my own. I was adamant inwardly that I wouldn't go into old living spaces of theirs and cry over Legos and other mementos.
But let me tell you, I am a memento keeper!
Your mother and I double dated to a number of high school dances and I've often smiled, laughed even, that I remember more of us being together than with our dates. It's just as well, because neither of us married anyone we dated in high school.
That might be something to tuck into the back of your mind when you start high school later this year. Though your heart may begin to desire an exclusive relationship with a special someone, odds are you won't spend the rest of your life with that person. Proverbs 4:23 tells us to guard our hearts, and I gather it means from things that are not good, but I want to encourage you to not give so much of your heart away in high school that you lose yourself.
I did that, and your mother called me out on it. I called her out on a few things as well, and I'll always cherish that about our friendship. We could share strong opinions, and while it wasn't pleasant to hear, we knew we had each other's best interests...at heart.
Back to the dances...of course we didn't have smart phones back in the day, as a matter of fact if someone had told us in time people would take pictures with their telephones, we'd have laughed heartily and long at the absurdity of that. We had our share of silliness, but even at a young age, your mother had a deeply serious side. I'm overwhelmed right now at all the things I wish to tell you and I'm having a hard time staying on topic. I'm still trying to get back to the dance.
We had pictures taken at the dances on rolls of film that had to be developed, then printed, and the waiting, often a week or more, built up a wonderful anticipation. A number of wallet-sized pictures would be printed on one page, they'd have to be cut apart, and the absolute best part was when a friend gave you one. It was an honor. There were only so many to go around, say a 8 or 10 to a page. We'd write personal messages on the back to our closest friends.
I'm showing you the message first, because it lasted much longer than your mother's date (or mine) that night. He was a very good friend to your mother, into young adulthood. His expression was foretelling, I'll hint, and I'm sure he'll get a good laugh over this.
The discoloration is from a vinyl picture holder in an old wallet. We kept pictures of our friends in those, not knowing time, in the form of PVCs, a chemical in the vinyl, would destroy them, but anyway, we took them out at school and shared them like you and your friends do pictures on your phones and via Facebook and Instagram.
Everything changes, all the time. Old pictures. People. Keep that in mind as well as you begin high school and the journey of the last four or so years of your life before you are considered an adult. (The maturing process continues always.)
Our names changed, but something didn't change. Joyce wrote she'd always think of me as her closest friend. I'll always think of her that way as well. It's devastating to lose someone with whom you've had such a long relationship. From your perspective, I wonder how one grieves for what they didn't have. You obviously were shortchanged in the time department with your mother. Life isn't always fair, as you learned much younger than you should have, but I'll reign myself in from yet another bunny trail.
She hoped I received everything in life...I have received everything I needed and many things I didn't want. Like you, I lost a parent as a child. I know the gaping hole that leaves in one's heart, and I hope my sharing of the long friendship I had with your mother can give you back a little of what you lost.
You contacting me, your daddy telling you to because I was her "best friend"--talk about the blessing of receiving! As you learn more about what your mother was like in the phase of life you are entering, I'm re-joyce-ing to get to know you! Thank you for the picture you sent of you and your brother. I'll cherish the picture and even more, I cherish the honor of you giving it to me.
P.S. Your mother used to call me Leigh-ason sometimes. I never knew why, no one else called me that.