This post is in memory of a friend who I met while living and teaching in South Korea from 2007-2008. She was brash and funny and never told a soul that she was sick. She passed away in 2013 from a common illness that we now have treatment for but for privacy reasons, I will not name here. Rather, I prefer to remember the woman she was and am thankful she let me into her life.
After we went our separate ways, our contracts finished, you would call me now and again. Our conversations were lively. You, throwing around expletives like they were slang, while I, laughed uproariously at the absurdity of how you could use the mother-of-all-swear-words in every part of speech. We’d laugh about our adventures, talk about our tight-knit circle of friends behind their backs, knowing full well that it wasn’t anything we wouldn’t say to them if they were in the same room.
You, with your brashness, would regale me with stories of your current adventures to Turkey, for which you admonished me for not coming along, and me knowing that after we backpacked through Thailand and Cambodia, there was no way in hell I would ever travel with you again; our styles were…different.
Your professional camera equipment made our group of five laugh and seethe with frustration if you told us one more time to, “Wait, wait. One more picture. One more picture!” Or, “Move a little to the left, no, my left. Hold it. Hold it. Okay, now one more pose,” and we’d all sigh in unison.
You’d fumble with the lenses and then squint your eyes at the buttons, followed by, “Jesus Christ, where are my glasses?”
Jasmine would laugh breaking the tension as Bryan reminded you that there were two pairs around your neck, while a pair of black sunglasses sat atop your short silvery hair. Tricia smiled and walked away, pretending not to hear you while I shook my head, shot you a sarcastic look and we’d be off on another adventure.
For all your quirks, you always knew where to go and how to get there even when you didn’t. You were brave, no nonsense, and adventurous. You were the only woman I knew who left the U.S. to work construction in Central America and later, sell real estate in another foreign land.
We bonded over earning the same master’s degree from the shittiest school turned decent university in the U.S. and then not using it, opting instead to teach English in Asia. Our mutual connection was Bryan but neither one of us can remember how we met for sure. While you and he traveled to Turkey together and had an unfortunate experience resulting in the termination of your friendship, I waited four years before sleeping with him; a one-night stand that changed my life.
Then, that fateful day on Facebook, I saw your post, well, not you, but a friend of yours, someone I had never met. You had slipped away quietly during the night, very unlike the you I remembered; a woman everyone remembered after meeting you once.
Your raspy laugh, shining blue eyes with a hint of mischief and smart rhetoric, when it wasn’t laden with expletives. You, Brooke Chaplin, were a forced to be reckoned with. A strong take-no-shit-from-anyone-woman, twenty years my senior, who I could always count on for an adventure.
We laugh. Promise to keep in touch and go our separate ways. No hug, no handshake, just a smile. We turn and walk in opposite directions. I glance behind me and watch you walk away. My heart feels heavy. This feels like the last time. You never turn back, just keep walking.
Any grammar and mechanical issues are the responsibility of the author, and even though she’s an English teacher and does proofread, there may be some errors.