Do it before it’s too late

I let my first-- and best-- college roommate go without saying good-bye.
By Joanne Peterson | Jul 19, 2012

First, I’ll tell you what should have happened.  I should have kept in touch with Stormee, my college roommate, for all the years between college and now.

Losing touch when we were 30-something was a pity, because certainly we valued and appreciated one another. But sometimes college friends drift apart, don’t they? Lots of things happen—family responsibilities, moves across the country, broken marriages, career changes.

So, somehow, we didn’t see each other again after a one-time wonderful reunion in Portland when we were in our 30s.

I flew in for a conference of some sort, and Stormee, living in the area at the time, met me at the plane.  We talked and talked and talked.

The years fell away, and we reminisced all the way back to our first days at WSU, when she transferred from Willamette University after her freshman year, and I transferred from Everett Community College.

No surprise that two sophomore girls moving into the same dorm were assigned as roommates.

I think on day one we realized how utterly different we were, one from another, but how much we had in common, too. We became close friends, sharing boyfriend problems, taking classes together, studying in our room or walking to the library, the bookstore or the movies.

Stormee was a powerhouse of energy and enthusiasm, always excited about something, given to plights and causes.

She contemplated a year in Ghana  following graduation, seeking  an opportunity to work for equality and peace. (She did not go to Ghana. She married the August after we graduated from WSU, as did I. She had three children and began a lifelong involvement  in various social, educational and political causes.)

What should have happened? Stormee and I should have stayed close through the years, and we did not. We tried again once for a little get-together, just the two of us, but it didn’t work out.  It took me until three weeks ago to attempt to contact her again, feeling an increasing need to see her.

This is what actually happened.  I finally Googled Stormee’s unique name and watched as words about her family and activities appeared on the screen.

I smiled at the photo that looked so very much like the college girl I knew. The years flew away. I could hear her bright voice, her laughter. And then I read the terrible word: Obituary.

Stormee died in Oregon, of cancer, just a few weeks ago, while I was thinking of her, most every day. Had I known of her illness, I would have gone to her and held her hand and spoken the stories of our shared past.

I let my first-- and best-- college roommate go without saying good-bye. That’s what really happened.  She died, while I was feeling a need for her to be in my life.

There’s a message here, of course.  Please locate the fondly-remembered roommate, friend, relative or neighbor who has drifted out of your life.   Make contact.  Now.


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