I am certain my angst with August seemed silly to many of you. After all, every year we send kiddos to school. And every year winter arrives and is eventually followed by spring. So, why on earth would a grown woman complain about an entire stupid month.
I’ve written and rewritten this post. I’ve trashed completed drafts in my attempt to share my thoughts. I just can’t seem to get it right.
You see, my intention is to share a bit about my lifelong friend. Known to me first as Krista Anne Lutterman.
It’s a gift to have a buddy, a kindred spirit, someone to share life with. It’s an entirely different thing altogether, a priceless treasure, to have someone you can share nearly every aspect of your life with for 35 years.
I had that.
Thank you, God.
But I, and SO many others, spent August of 2012 facing down the reality that our earthly relationship with someone we cherished was about to end.
How on earth do you put into words something like that?
My first draft was so sad I couldn’t stop crying to finish. Every time I opened it I cried. Even Matt didn’t know what to do with me. I worked on it for days and finally just gave up knowing Krista would tell me to knock it off and suck it up.
Other drafts fell short of explaining who Krista was. And who she is to me.
So, in the end, I’ve decided to give you a short (depending on your idea of short) overview of some of my favorite Krista characteristics and quirks. In my attempt to loosen the grip I’ve allowed August to have on me, I’m focusing on only good memories. The further her death gets from me, the more I’m able to remember the span of our friendship versus the agony of her last days and eventual absence. So, here are a few of the many memories/things I love about Krista that I’ve collected over the span of 35 years.
Before we begin, there are a few things you should know.
-Krista and I had known each other since we were tiny squirts. In our youth, we shared a daytime babysitter. In later years we not only attended the same school but had the same teachers.
-We grew up across the street from one another, our mothers taught at the same school and our little sisters were best friends. We were connected on no less than 2,000 levels.
-We loved playing Little House on the Prairie and recording our own radio shows in her closet. Ummm…..apparently, we were also both comfortable being dorks.
-Krista was like a sister to me. A much taller, more responsible sister.
Ok, let’s begin.
Krista was such a friend to me. There is a line in a country song that talks about being “a friend a friend would like to have.” Perfect summation of the type of friend she was to me.
-She let me tag along. From trips to her grandparents when we were little to getting me a job at the family orchard when we were in high school, she was content to let me hang with her. In college, when I was in the gifted and talented program at being single, she let me be a fifth wheel on Saturday night dates. And not in a ‘Oh, dear Lord, let her get someone…ANYONE…to take her out this weekend’ kind of agreement. She always made me feel like she didn’t care that I was totally infringing on her evening. In fact, I spent every New Year’s for YEARS with her and her boyfriend/later fiance/later husband. Ironically, we always ended up at the same guy’s house or apartment. He was weird but he was friends with all my friends and we always had fun together.
I am now married to that weird guy. I credit Krista with the decade long lead-up that it took for Matt to learn to tolerate me.
She may have bribed him. Or coerced him. (See next point.)
-She was a leader. I don’t remember her being overly bossy with me but rather confidently assertive in what she thought we should be doing. And when and where we should be doing it. I always thought her ideas were better anyway so it worked out for both of us. Krista and I baked our first cake together. Apparently substituting baking soda and baking powder isn’t a great idea. The cake ended up with the density of concrete and shaped like a honeycomb. We promptly threw it in the woods behind her house where the deer likely choked on it.
Aside from our culinary skills, we recorded the aforementioned radio shows in her bedroom closet. Or videotaped our own weather segments. We spent hours….HOURS…playing Little House on the Prairie.
We were super nerds.
We’d grab Kristi Butler as we headed up the street towards Gina Steinsberger’s house. We’d spend the afternoon inventing or creating or just doing whatever 8 year old girls did in the 80’s. Fancying ourselves as archaeologists, we dug up the land behind our houses and found old silverware and antique bottles. I never remember a dull moment with Krista. I loved hanging out with her. Like I said, she had great ideas.
Alas, not all time could be spent playing because there were other responsibilities in life…even for a 10 year old. Which brings me to my next point.
-She was neat. Orderly. Perhaps a bit anal retentive. My mom was always after me to clean up my room. As a mother now, let me just say, “I GET IT, MOM!!” I was a slob where Krista was like a well oiled, cleaning and organizing machine. I don’t ever remember her room being untidy. EVER. However, she’d come to my house and say, “If your mom wants you to clean your room, just clean your room.” Little did she know that there is some gene missing from my makeup that prevents just that from happening.
I wonder if she somehow got my gene and hers. That’s the only logical explanation for her tidiness and my slovenliness. Right?
The great part about Krista was that she’d hang out with me while I cleaned. Or practiced the piano. Because piano lessons were another point of drudgery in my life. I loathed, loathed, loathed, practicing. But Krista would come over and sit in my living room while I played, making the time pass much faster. She always requested a song called Polar Bears, which I loved playing for her because I got to use way too much pedal. Which is apparently a thrill when you’re ten and hate practicing the piano. And she thought it was great which made me feel great.
Like I said, a friend a friend would like to have….
And because she was so stinking organized and orderly, she never had to clean up her room and had time to sit with me instead.
-She was patriotic. She loved studying government and economics. She loved the U. S. of A. We went to hear Ronald Reagan together when he visited Evansville in 1986. I remember being so confused as to what our President had to do with the Star Wars movie. Looking back, I have no doubt Krista could’ve explained the arms race even as a 5th grader.
I recently heard a story from Cheryl, Krista’s dear friend and college roommate, who has since become a treasured friend to me. She told me that the ONLY argument they’d ever had was when Krista proclaimed Reagan as the greatest American President and Cheryl vehemently disagreed. The story goes that Krista began chasing Cheryl around the sorority house, like some crazed person, spouting off all the wonders of his term. Cheryl said she knew better than to EVER broach the subject again.
Krista loved the Olympics. As an athlete in an athletic family, her love of sports came naturally. However, her patriotism was rare for a kid her age. She seemed to live for the summer Olympics. I still remember how excited she was when the family got to attend part of the Atlanta Games in 1996. I could’ve cared less.
And without going too far down a less than pleasant memory lane, I dread next year’s games a bit. Because three years ago we sat in her family room and watched the Olympics together. The stakes were much higher than any silly sand volleyball game and we both knew it.
I never wanted those games to end.
I know that next year I will watch and cheer for the volleyball team. Wishing I had a patriotic Krissy cheering next to me.
But I promised happy memories, so let me continue….
-She was funny. Sometimes ‘ha-ha’ funny and sometimes she did things that were inadvertently hilarious. For instance, one night we had a group date at a nice, a la carte restaurant where the prices were listed next to each item but did not denote the decimal point. When our order was taken, she requested the 1995 salmon. We were a bit confused but she was adamant she specifically wanted the 1995 salmon. I was trying to figure out why anyone would want 15 year old salmon….and finally we realized she was listing the price.
Ok, this might not seem funny to anyone outside of that table but we laughed and laughed about the 1995 salmon. The best part was that Krista laughed. She had a great ability to laugh at the silly things she did. Her lightheartedness I miss so very much. Along with a million other little things.
-She was a friend. A friend a friend like I would like to have. She was thoughtful and tender and gave the. best. hugs. Her laugh was genuine and contagious and I’m so utterly grateful that as I type this I can hear it. She remembered big things and little things. She sent me a Happy First Mother’s Day card. No joke. It has a treasured spot in my china cabinet drawer. She was amazing at sending cards for all large and small occasions. And she actually remembered to use the little gold stickers they throw in the bag. In retrospect, she might have had an unhealthy relationship with Hallmark but who am I to judge since I was often on the receiving end of her precious cards.
-She was all the things I’ve shared up until the day she left us. Even as August pressed on and Krista had surmounting challenges, she decided she wanted a party. Get my friends together, she said. Raise money for the National Brain Tumor Society, she said. So, we did. As I’ve stated, she had great ideas, she was persuasive and she knew who to ask. She shared this idea with us on August 11, 2012. Her cousin Ande, a small group of devoted, amazing friends and I gathered to try to pull off her request in less than one week. Apparently everyone in the tri-state area loved her as much as we did because Krista’s great idea raised somewhere around $70,000 for her cause. Typical Krista, sharing ideas and orchestrating fun stuff right up until the end.
I find that I’ve written too much for a traditional blog post and not nearly enough to convey the awesomeness of Krista. There will be more. But even then it won’t convey the awesomeness of Krista.
As I climb up on my soapbox, let me end by challenging you to do something this week. Do you have a friend a friend would like to have? Call him/her. Drop a line, a text, an old fashioned letter. Do not let time pass or grass grow on your friendship. Meet for coffee, Skype, chat message. (Is that still a thing?) My point is that I need you to understand I’m an expert at very few things but realizing the importance of soaking up true friendship is now one of them. I still stink at making time for my best girls at times but I am getting better thanks to Krista. So love on your friends. And work to be a friend a friend would like to have.
And maybe swing by a Hallmark store and grab a few cards. No doubt their sales could use a boost.
**If you have a sweet, funny or special memory of Krista, please share. Her mom continues to collect the stories in a book for Krista’s kids. Mykristastory@yahoo.com