I've been looking through old yearbooks...
Recently, my friend Jenny passed away. She had a sudden, massive stroke and passed less than a week later from the complications. She was a friend of mine from middle school and high school at Carl Sandburg Middle School and Mundelein High School. I lived in Illinois from 1987-91; I moved out from Ames IA, and returned later both due to divorces in my family.
Jenny was one of us -- we were all band, choir, and theater kids and we all stuck together. Being "artsy" kids already kinda made us different from the other cliques at school. I played guitar in Carl Sandburg and MHS pep and jazz bands, and was always called to play for assemblies, musicals and other things. I'll never forget Jenny's smile and the way that she and her friend Marilee always lit up a room. I think back to going to all the 8th grade dances at Carl Sandburg middle school, playing assemblies and basketball games at Mundelein High, playing for 'Man From La Mancha', and dozens of other memories that at the time maybe seemed inconsequential. We all hung out together; and for me those times and those friends looking back helped me get through some tough times in my life.
Since I moved away one year shy of our 1992 graduation, I didn't make it over the graduation finish line with Jenny and all of our friends. And I slowly lost touch with everyone through the rest of the 1990s. But with social media, I slowly was able to re-connect with many of them. I cherished their friendships a lot - a lot more than I probably let on. I was able to re-connect with Jenny and many of our friends during the 20 year Class of 1992 reunion back in Mundelein several years ago. Pictures from that night in my Facebook photo albums and links. You could see the smiles on everyone's faces - 20 years of catching up! A few of our friends from that time had already passed away, and that was bittersweet...
And now Jenny is gone - and like the others, far too soon. It sure doesn't seem fair to lose someone so young and vibrant. But we don't know what tomorrow will bring, and it's too sad that we have to lose another of our friends to bring that realization home.
I hope that you will join me in praying for Jenny and her family this weekend. She leaves behind cherished family members and friends, and three children of her own.
Jenny - thank you for being a friend to me and to all of us. Your light and smile spread all around us, and we are so much the better for having you in our lives. I pray that you would know how much you were and are loved by your family and friends. You were loved and cherished, far more than you were probably aware. May you rest in the arms of God. Your friend, Ryan