My friend Karen passed recently. I was stunned. I always see everyone of “my” age as kids. I remember them as I met them … school age. So when one of us passes, it is a shock. But Karen’s passing was more than that. It was a true loss.
We met in 1974 as we entered the 7th grade at Jacksonville Junior High. That was forty-one years ago now. A long time to me as I see it written. Not nearly enough now that I realize she is gone.
I loved Karen. Almost from day one. We were never “an item.” We didn’t date. Nothing even close. But I still loved her. We hung out. At her parent’s business, Tad’s Lounge (which had the BEST turkey subs and macaroni salad) … at the beach … at her house. Just friends discussing life. I remember the Erik Estrada poster over her bed (“Ponch” from the TV show ” CHiPs). I remember the graduation night party at her house. I remember a lot.
After high school, Karen became a cosmetologist … and a great one. She tried for years to make me beautiful … always failing miserably. But my haircuts were always awesome.
I joined the Air Force in 1982 and left Jacksonville … pretty much for good. I stopped in for the infrequent visit over the years. And I always tried to find the shop where she was working to let her attempt another beauty transformation … but like always, I just left with a great cut.
Over time, the visits became less frequent. But when we did visit, it was if we had seen each other just the previous day … as if time had stood still for us.
But time doesn’t stand still. For anyone. And this point was very painfully and poignantly driven home to me on 19 October 2015.
I wanted to do something. I wanted to share her memory. I wanted to share the loss.
So because of her, I knew there were others. Gone too soon. Not realized by many. Their passing a shock to those that were left. Their family … their friends … their classmates. I wanted to remember them all. Even the ones I didn’t personally know.
So … for the love of Karen … The Southwest High School Memorial Page became a labor of love to all of our classmates that have left us. Never too soon did they go … because that is not our decision. But His. They are gone because their job here is complete. But their memories and our love for them continues.
Just like mine … For The Love of Karen.
Karen Susan Schippert Smith
August 21st, 1962 – October 19th, 2015