Thursday, January 28, 2010

The best of times- Part 6

Leigh and I talked almost weekly while she was away at school. Our lives continued to grow in separate directions but we always maintained the sisterhood we formed in junior high. When she was home on the weekend or for holidays we were together. We continued to celebrate the holidays as a family each year. The Gramlich’s house was just another stop for me after mom and dads.

My 21st birthday was our last party time together. I still have the gift that Leigh gave me, the top that I wore out that night. We got a party bus and went to The Oz nightclub to see strippers. We had a fantastic time! Leigh was a new woman compared to the girl I had known. We hadn’t been OUT together in a long time and college had definitely taught her some things. We danced in the cage that night (my first time) and we must have heard Back that Ass Up 10 times. We made it our song of the evening. To this day when I hear it I can see Leigh and Meaghan backing it up in the parking lot of The Oz before we went in. It is always at the top of my club requests even now.
At my house, getting ready to go out. I love this picture because it shows her goofy side!
Me and Leigh outside of The Oz, partying in the bus
Gettin' our groove on...
I can easily take myself back to this moment and it is one I use often when I am sad.

Our last Thanksgiving together I remember that Leigh, Joanne, Dawn and I went shopping while Leigh was home on break from school. We were an unlikely quartet to say the least but we had a blast! I remember being in the car that day and thinking “I will remember this day for the rest of my life”. We had so much fun! Christmas of 1999 Leigh called to tell me that she had gotten a puppy for Christmas. She told me he was only 1 pound and I remember hanging up the phone and thinking that I must have heard her wrong. I went to meet this puppy, now known as Tanner, and Leigh was a different person. She was a mommy! Her parents had crumbled under her request for the dog. She cried because she wanted him so badly (which she didn’t do) and eventually Daddy Paul caved. Both of her parents were in awe of themselves for letting her have this dog that cost a small fortune. It wasn’t like them to just give Leigh what she wanted but she rarely asked for things either so they felt like it was a sign that they should. Almost 1 month to the day of my meeting Tanner, Leigh was gone. To this day I know Tanner is a saving grace to them and they never once regretted fulfilling that wish.

Our final conversation was the week before Leigh died. My dad and my sister had just started talking after 8 years of no communication. Leigh knew my family well and she was so excited for this reunion. Meaghan and I had recently started hanging out as well. Meaghan was Leigh’s friend from grade school whom I never really got along with before so she was happy to hear that as well. We talked for over an hour. There was no sign that would have told me it would be our last conversation. Leigh always told everyone that she loved them when she left or ended a phone conversation…always. We said our “I love you’s” and we hung up.

If you wish, you can read about the night that Leigh died here. Today is about remembering her life to me.

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