When I was a kid around 7 or 8 I had a really great friend. As we got into our early teens we were very close, and now looking back I realize just how close. She was the person I talked to about anything and everything, I even talked to her about girls and she talked to me about the boys. We had that real close cousin type of friendship even though there was no blood relationship, but we were more than friends, our connection went deeper than that, much deeper than one can simply imagine. So, in “honor” of my great friend in life I would like to share some memories, I hope she wouldn’t mind.
The first time I met Gabby I was probably 7 or 8 years old, I was spying on the new girl on the block as she helped her parents unpack the moving truck and I was truly fascinated with everything about her. I was up high in the tree in our front yard, as quiet as a hawk searching for movement in the tall grass, as I watched her blonde hair whip around in the breeze. I got distracted for real and was watching two squirrels fighting over something at the end of the very branch I was laying on. Out of the blue I heard a quiet voice, the whispering voice of a girl asking me if I wanted to climb down so I could play with her. After I climbed down we walked back to the bayou where we caught and played with the crawdads that were everywhere. We didn’t talk much about anything, we just got muddy, laughed, and played. Later on we hear her dad calling out in the distance for Gabby to come home. With big eyes she stole a kiss on the cheek, told me thanks for playing with her, and she was gone into the wind. We would play like this, for hours at a time after school and on the weekends.
We went trick-or-treating together that first year she moved in and that became our “little tradition” for many years to come. We would do crazy shit all year long, pranks, jokes, and so on, always doing it together as much as time would allow. In our early teens our friendship took a turn to the best I think, I never heard her complain either, she noticeably was going from little girl to a young lady. As this happened, we played allot of show and tell and allot of spin the bottle and a fair share of truth or dare, always just us two, nobody else was allowed to participate. It’s just the way it was. Before long we knew more about one another than each other knew about themselves, inside and out. But this was all about to end, I was moving away the summer between 8th and 9th grade to live with my dad in another state. It was a surprise and crushing blow for all of us, family included, as everyone guessed us to start dating because we were inseparable at all times. That was a hard summer for me, I crashed an ultralight aircraft attempting to get my amateur aviation license which should have killed me, but it didn’t luckily. Unfortunately, on my final trip back home at the end of summer, to pack and say goodbye, I was given the terrible news that my dad had a fatal accident while participating in a exposition air show. I buried him a week later. All my plans died with him that day, but the only person I felt I could talk with or just sit with was my best friend Gabby.
High school started right on cue, we had unofficially started dating, meaning we did everything together but weren’t actually together, but everyone but us called it dating, we are just good friends. By our sophomore year the boys were really noticing her and time in our friendship was being stretched beyond control, something had to go, and that something just happened to be me. She dated many boys, I didn’t really have a serious relationship until 11th grade which made our friendship even stranger. In the beginning of that relationship Gabby played dirty, in my spare time she was there, flirting harder than ever, always naked around me when we were alone, always tempting me with the very thing I always thought I wanted, but it never happened, but according to her rumors we were together, we were fucking, and I was taken. A nice story that ended badly. We didn’t speak again until the night of our graduation, where she told me she was leaving soon to go to Air Force basic training, a place I was also going to be but got accepted into college so my enlistment was delayed 24 months. That was it, my first crush was leaving and I didn’t have the nuts to even tell her goodbye or I’m sorry or good luck, I just let her walk away.
I did attend college, I did get married to my high school sweetheart a year later, and did join the Air Force another year later. When all the dust settled and I land at my first base, I find out my sponsor just so happens to be little miss Gabby herself. I had four years to do in Japan, luckily she was leaving in a few months. We partied quite a bit before she left, a habit greatly practiced by ammo troops I soon found out. Yes, if hadn’t guessed, we had the same job, both making the choice we decided way back when in yesteryear. Soon enough she left, leaving me once again. I saw her again, sooner than I thought, as we both were deployed for Desert Storm and were stationed at the same base. It made 8 months fly by, having a friend from home with me. But soon enough we rotated out to our home bases and once again we were separated again. I would see her off and on for the next few years until we ended up in New Mexico together. She had gotten married to a true asshole, I say that because he thought it was okay to beat on her regularly. A disturbing fact that was brought out to my attention one early morning when she showed up in my doorstep with a bloody nose and bleeding lip. That night a few of my friends and I payed him a visit, never before had I tried to kill someone before, but I tried that night. He got the message and slipped away quietly one day soon after, leaving a note announcing he wants a divorce.
Life went on, I divorced my wife, got out the Air Force, and so forth. Meanwhile, Gabby was determined to make a career out of the Air Force, and carried on, gaining rank, ribbons, and accommodations. After two back to back tours in Afghanistan she decided she was done, she retired as a Senior Master Sergeant (E-8) which I had an invitation to the ceremony but had other obligations, so no, I did not attend. I got a phone call from Gabby a few weeks later, announcing she had moved back to Houston and wanted to get together with my family and I for dinner one night soon. My current wife knew very little of Gabby and our lifelong friendship, since I never had a need to talk about my past much, something I’ve been working on lately, and my wife is now realizing that I treat my relationships, friends or family, and with her, very seriously, and I will guard those relationships until the end. She gets it, I think.
Our dinner out was great, everyone including my wife and kids, had a great time talking and visiting. I think my wife looks at me differently now, she never has had anyone explain how my life in the Air Force was except for me, and I tend to not talk much about the details, just keep it short and sweet, the end, story over. That dinner was two years ago, on Halloween night, a night not unlike many before it, we said our goodbyes, made future plans, and we went our separate ways. After getting settled at home, about an hour and a half after leaving the restaurant, I got a phone call from the Constable’s office to inform me that an officer was heading my way to discuss an important matter with me. Soon enough we got the knock on the door, the officer was there to inform me of a fatal automobile accident a few hours ago. Seems I was listed as Gabby’s only next of kin and also the last person she spoke with according to her phone. He explained that a truck traveling the opposite direction hit a deer which resulted in the truck losing control and colliding head on with Gabby’s truck at what was estimated at at least 80 mph, resulting in both being killed at impact. The following day I was asked to formally identify her body and yes it was her. She had a closed casket funeral due to the facial and upper body damage. A very small funeral at the Veteran’s Cemetery here in Houston, most of the people attending were my family. Her flag was presented to me, probably the hardest thing I accepted in life with exception to being 15 and presented my father’s flag at his funeral.
I have bad news for my wife, who recommended I tell this story here today in my spare time, who thought it might make me feel better if I take the time to write about my great friend and our enduring friendship, who is wrong because I don’t feel better, but I did enjoy the trip down memory lane, sort of, but I think I should come clean to y’all, the story y’all read today is only about 1% of everything that ever happened. For now y’all can assume and presume, for now y’all can filter through it all, because for now I’m very done writing about it. In case you are curious, the picture is of Gabby, I took that picture in an undisclosed location in a desert in New Mexico many years ago, alongside a deserted road, she wanted to flash somebody so bad, but after hours just the scorpions, the buzzards, and I were the only ones enjoying the show. It’s a great picture and memory of her, she truly was a graceful and free spirit.