My childhood friend Sheila kept every letter and piece of paper that I had ever sent to her from 1973-1989. She had emailed me last year and asked me if I wanted them. When I received them they were neatly piled and carefully dated with the envelopes stapled to the letters. I had never seen anything like this and questioned whether my friend had OCD or was she just efficient.
Sheila had always been the loyal friend that I waited for every morning, at approximately 8:35 on Albert Street, to walk to school. She had experienced most of my life first hand and was one of the very few friends who turned up at my father's funeral in Quebec. We had not seen each other in years but deep down we both knew that the other was still there and we each still valued and cherished our friendship.
There has not been a day that has gone by that I do not think of Sheila and her family. Her father taught me how to ride a bike and her mother served me my first slice of carrot cake. Just because you lose contact from time to time, does not mean that you forget your friends or carrot cake.
I sat there and shook my head while I read about my old passions for cars and shopping. That was the old me. I had always needed stuff to keep me going. Thirteen years ago I found myself and no longer needed anything to make me happy but life.
I read about my former dark side. It was like a slap in the face to read about the doctors, pills, depression and misery. I could feel the blackness creeping back into me that I had fought off for years. I shuddered and put the letters down. That was deep reading and I hated that period of my life.
I read about the beginnings of my stores in the early 70's and then saw clippings from magazines and newspapers with my designs in it. I wrote about wanting a child at the age of 25. In reality my first born, Schuyleur, had arrived in my life when I was 35.
The very last correspondence was a fax dated Sept 03, 1989. I had told Sheila that I was planning to close my store in 1994 which eventually did not close until eight years later. Sheila had told me it was a good idea and that I should pursue a career in politics.
Years had flown by, yet it all still seemed like yesterday. It felt like we were still in her old basement and her mother was banging on the floor above us with a broom because she had endured enough of the song, "Satisfaction" by The Rolling Stones. After the broom did not work she lured us up to the upper level with a slice of her famous carrot cake. Yes, Carrot Cake outweighed The Rolling Stones even in those days.
I stood next to the dryer today waiting for the cycle to end with tears flowing down my face. How did life go by so fast? Where did it go?
I sighed and pulled the clothes out of the dryer. It felt like I made a 360 as they say and had briefly visited my past life for a few fleeting hours like "A Christmas Carol." But there were no ghosts and no evil deeds that had been done. It had just been our life and it had not been such a bad life. We had both survived and that, my friends, is a feat in itself.
Sheila and I both tried to make a difference to people in our lives. Who knew when we first became friends at the age of 2, what our destiny would be like. But if I die tomorrow I know that I have tried. Just like Sheila.
I know that we are both grateful for everything, including each other and anytime I see a slice of carrot cake I smile and think of her. Even though our friendship is just crumbs these days I know if we saw each other again we would be baking a brand new cake.
Linda Seccaspina 2011 and dedicated to all the Sheilas of the world
Mrs. Wallet's Carrrot Cake
4 eggs, 2 cups sugar
3 jars - 3 1/2 ounce sieved carrots (use baby food)
1 cup oil
1 cup crushed pineapple - drained
1 cup raisins
1 cup nuts - chopped
2 cups flour
2 teaspoons soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.
Mix thoroughly until smooth the following:
1 package - 8 ounce cream cheese
1 package powdered sugar
1 cub butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 pineapple juice
Picture of carrot cake was when I did for a church function.