I remember the day Kelly arrived in eighth grade. Someone told us there was a new girl, so we went to her homeroom to check her out and say hello. She was from the city . . . South Burlington, Vermont. I was sure she was going to be super-sophisticated and a real snob. We made our way over to B wing in a pack . . .
We walked into her homeroom. She turned to us and smiled. She had on an orange sweatshirt with handwriting all over it (all of her old friends had signed it). She saw us, said “Hi” and laughed. It is one of my favorite laughs of all time. It puts you at ease immediately. Kelly has a way of letting you know that she does not take herself too seriously, and she is ready to have a good time. I always loved being with Kelly.
In many ways we were polar opposites . . . as you can see here me in a prom dress, Kelly in sweats. She often wore sweatpants to school. I wore heels! Kelly never cared what I wore. She was the kind of friend who always made you feel great about yourself. She has the hugest heart. She was one of the most beloved people in our class.
For lots of ninth and tenth grade we were off on adventures together. As we got older our paths diverged a bit. I always loved the times when we would get together. I was always comfortable around Kelly. And I always wished for her to be comfortable and content. She struggled with that sometimes. I think most people who knew her would tell you all about how remarkable she was . . . but Kelly often did not even get it. I think most guys in our class had a crush on her and most of the girls would say she was the best.
I was hugely surprised when just out of high school Kelly got married and had a baby . . . I think Kelly was surprised too. I was so grateful when she asked me to be in her wedding. It made me feel like she understood, that I really did adore her, believe in her and support her.
And then we lost touch . . . for years . . . there was no email . . . there were no cell phones and Kelly was raising a little boy
We re-connected at our ten year high school reunion . . . she was just the same . . . her smile, her readiness to embrace life . . . her laugh . . . and then we lost touch again until our twentieth reunion . . . Here we are ,in the middle, on a tour of our old high school . . .
I have to say that I do wish I had been better at being in touch with her, being supportive of her. Kelly is a grandmother now! And for my 40 for 40 I really did hope to see her. She does not live all that far away. So today, we did it. We got together in Manchester, New Hampshire . . .
There was a parade happening just where we had decided to meet. It seemed so appropriate, she arrived with the fire trucks . . .
I snapped a shot of her as she arrived at the Bridge Cafe . . .
She greeted me laughing. She is still embracing life magnificently. She teaches high school Biology, plays rugby, and is sought after by twenty-something year old men. I think the guys behind the counter found her immediately endearing. As she ordered her burrito I laughed and remembered the feeling of being around her. She makes everyone feel comfortable and at ease as if life is more fun than we remembered. She laughs and it makes everyone else laugh.
I loved my time with Kelly.
Her brother asked her how I was aging . . .
I am not the most photogenic, and this is not the best picture . . . but I think we are aging all right. In fact, Kelly, you are magnificent, best looking grandmother ever!