Van Huss-ing

Ok, so, I know that this internet/ Facebook/ Twitter and ‘social media “BOOM” happened for some of us, in our 30s, for others; after college…and honestly for some, while still in K-12 (yes, unfortunately, I don’t think including kindergarteners is a far cry fro those who actually utilize social media, and are probably better than me…). Me, I am one of those who actually first got pretty involved in, maybe you have heard of it, but good chance you haven’t, MySpace. MySpace was the first social media site I was a member of and only occasionally posted there.

But then I started coming across people I knew in high school. I was so far removed from high school after I graduated, I didn’t keep in touch with many. There were always those I thought of. Honestly, if you were ever a part of my life, there is a strong chance that I learned a ton from you…so, I have probably thought of you. And then there were those that, even after social media was born, I could never seem to find…couldn’t find your email looking up the email registry, would send *cough* ‘snail mail’, never to get a response and, as social media became more the norm, would continue to search to find you. There were two people I always, always had to check. Whenever would send an update, I would log on to see if Casey or Martine were there…but I could never find them. I think eventually Casey signed in, but I wasn’t willing to pay to get her email address, plus…i had called and left a message on her answering machine.

So then Facebook comes around and, truly, Facebook has all but destroyed MySpace. Does anyone remember their Myspace account? Mine is Barefoot buddy, I am still there, but wow, I just went there…and am totally confused. So, anyway…Facebook. Facebook seems to be one of the easiest ways to stay connected. It annoys me, a lot, but I ave connected with a lot of people I used to know.

And one day, I got a friend request. It was from Casey! Super excited, I immediately accepted her request and sent her a note. We wrote back once or twice. Casey was one of my old high school friends. she had a baby blue Volkswagen Bug ( TRUE defining vehicle of a deadhead, and I was always jealous). She had a bird in her ‘second bedroom’. Yep, Casey was my only friend with her own two bedrooms! We would go over to Casey’s house to hang with the boys…and be teens 😉

Casey was one of my only friends I actually had a true relationship with after high school. I remember she was just ‘in love’ with this boy, a few years older than us, who worked at the bar on the corner of Roswell Rd and Johnson Ferry…he was a cook. Ironically, my friend Martine (who was the other friend I was always looking for) had previously dated him and I remember Casey chuckling about the fact that they had dated the same guy. But this was different for her. She really loved him…and, odd enough, a short time later, she was walking down the aisle to Ripple to marry the guy.

We re-connected and, though out some of my darkest times in my life, these memories stand out so loud and clear. Casey and John. John and Casey. Casey made John quit smoking so, as the good friend I was, I would sneak John cigarettes under the dinner table so he could go out and smoke.

John introduced me to Mt. Jonah and Casey introduced me to Cloudland Canyon – the infinite sky. The truest piece of solitude and silence, with a million stars circling just outside of your reach. Years later, my family and I have traipsed these campgrounds almost to memory. And of all the places in the world that have become my playground, my home away from home, it would be these clouds encasing the land…

To go a step even further, as avid cavers, first level cave rescuers and members of every caving organization we know of, I entered my very first cave with Casey and John…climbed a rope int a narrow little alley, with Casey cursing left and right, vowing she was going to die from claustrophobia. (didn’t happen) She DID knock her head straight against the low ceiling (I have since learned that is what helmets are for and do not travel without one!) knocked her head and slid right down the hill she had just clambered over. She’d do anything for that boy she had fallen for!

We lost touch, again…the last time I saw her, pregnant with her first born in her condo in Smyrna…not sure why we lost touch, maybe because I had snuck John too many cigarettes. Maybe because that is what I am good at, pushing people far away, losing touch and letting go.

But then she became my friend on Facebook. And we connected, briefly, too briefly for my satisfaction. But, what could I do? I live a ‘busy’ life and can’t find time to keep in touch (ask my brother, he lets me know every time I DO actually talk to him).

So I am checking Facebook one day, and I get this post, from Casey. She has been diagnosed with cancer, eventually learning it was stage 3…but not the ‘untreatable’ kind. As I wanted to reach out to Casey, to re-connect, and re-establish our friendship, the only though that has continued to surround me over time was, “dude, you ditched her years ago…she has her friends and family here now, let her be.”

I haven’t found a way to connect. I know the battles Casey and John both fight. I am amazed that they have, not only been together for nearly two decades now, have such well established lives and two beautiful children that look just like them, but are able to be such a team, strong and supportive to each other throughout all of lives challenges that we, truly, will never learn why some have to fight in an already difficult life. I check in regularly with Casey on Facebook. I don’t want to be a burden, and I hope the day comes (soon) when she can type up that post that she has beaten this. I know if anyone can, she can.

This week I have turned a new page in my life, I have stepped outside of my comfort zone to get one step closer to the unattainable…I thought I would start with a tribute to my friend. One of the few who really knew me for who I really was…and to know that, not a moment goes through my life that I do not think of you Casey. You, your family, our lives together. Cancer didn’t do that, Facebook didn’t do that. You left such an impression on my heart in my youth and to what I am today, that I have never and will never forget you. I am grateful that our paths have crossed again. I am hopeful that the time will come when we can visit again, but always know you are never more than a thought away. You are stronger than I ever imagined a person could me, the most amazing example of a mother I could fathom.

You are rocking it right, Casey Carter…I think you have a new verb all your own, you are Van Huss-ing it, Scarlet Begonia…fly, fly, fly…

I love you and everything you have ever meant to me.

Thank you


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