Received an email a few days ago from a young woman who went to high school with Andrea. After introducing herself, she wrote:
I can honestly say that I am a better person having known [Andrea]. She had such a light within her and was so wise and soulful. I consider myself very lucky to have known your beautiful daughter. Over the years she has been on my mind and in my heart often and I just wanted to send you a note to let you know that I miss her. As do so, so many people!
I responded immediately, thanking her profusely for writing and then peppered her with questions:
I would love to hear how you knew Annie (which classes or activities)...were you a senior the same year or did you graduate a year or two before? It is just such a gift to be given "new" memories of our daughter.
Her reply touched my heart deeply:
I sat in front of Andrea in Spanish 4 my entire senior year (the year she had just returned from abroad). We talked every day for the whole year. I remember conversations about choosing to surround yourself with quality people and running from the idea of exclusivity. And that everyone needs friends that serve different purposes - and how sometimes the most "important" friend in your life isn't your best friend or even in your inner circle.
She taught me that self-respect and confidence are beautiful. Together we vowed to be authentic. She helped me sort through which college to go to and encouraged me to go to prom with some girl friends when my date turned out undateable. I hope she knew how much I treasured her as a friend!
My sister's high school reunion was a week ago. Reunions always make me think of Andrea. Because my answer to, "Who would you most like to see at the reunion?" will always be Andrea. Always.
I could not hold back the tears. Her words so reminded me of our daughter especially in her last year's non-bulimic moments. The conversations Andrea had with her friend were similar to the ones she often had with us, even shortly before her death. Those were her values and an example of the "wisdom beyond her years" that sat so oddly and paradoxically between her and the eating disorder.
Tom recently sent me a quote he found while reading a site on photographic style. Although a seemingly unrelated topic, it's message fits with the email I received from Andrea's friend:
We admire the work of those we admire precisely because they showed us who they are. No one else can be them, and likewise, only you can be you. No one else can be as good at being you as you are. Show us. --Ken Rockwell
Knowing Andrea I realize that she must have trusted her long-ago friend, otherwise she would never have so thoroughly "shown" herself. Because she had the courage to be herself, her friend was able to share a memory that brought my daughter back to me in a real way. I send thanks to this young woman for being who she is...
[Originally posted on the Gürze Books Eating Disorders Blogs]