***NOTE: I only wanted to post a video as a tribute on YouTube. But I started writing down the description then I realized it wasn’t the right platform to convey all I needed to say…
She was a childhood friend. We were not that close then but I liked her. And, I guess, she liked me, too,, in a way. She let me be her friend, right?
She let me read my first serious book (Torey L. Hayden’s ONE CHILD), which our little group of 6th graders discussed just as seriously among us one afternoon. She provided constructive criticism and moral support when I was writing my “novelettes” in high school. She was smart, intelligent, and well-read. She was a budding writer whose views were way beyond her years.
I got to know her more when we started high school. Four of us lived together in an apartment for a while. It was not ideal. We were still kids so we went back to commuting from home to school to home daily.
Colette could be funny. She was also that friend who slapped your arm and pushed your shoulder when she was laughing. Sometimes, she had this funny way of laughing, too. She could be quite a joker. She would tease me about a secret admirer that I never got to confirm (I did try not to blush even if she was, as this generation says, ‘sus’). She would crush on someone so hard, you’d end up crushing on him as well (ha ha!). For two consecutive summers, we’d write to each other and she would talk about her crushes and life in general.
She sang and acted a few times onstage for school. What’s quite memorable was she played the guitar very well and people were often around her jamming within school grounds. She loved musicals and even let me read the MISS SAIGON libretto her mom gave her.
In college, we weren’t in contact much until I joined the school paper. I was surprised to find out that she was my section editor. I was so happy that we could spend time together. She even invited me to sing with her group. Unfortunately, those years were trying times for her. She left the paper and I never got to really see her again until we were to graduate. It was all a coincidence but we finally were able to catch up. Soon, I became a godmother to her child.
Through the years, we drifted apart then got closer, drifted apart, got closer. She kind of became a woman of the world while I was content in my little corner. She was born to make waves, I suppose. You can literally see her name in many parts of this country. The thing was, she never took advantage of that. In fact, she wanted to be more than that and set out on her own. She proved she was more than her name. She became a writer, pastry chef, entrepreneur, and staunch advocate for good causes.
We became closer again in recent years even though we hardly saw each other. We would text or chat sometimes, oftentimes with another friend, Julie. She would ask me to come over (we’re in the same city), and I would’ve loved to, but I usually declined due to various reasons. Or she would decline. We would not communicate for weeks or months then resume the friendship. It was during this kind of “hiatus” last year that I learned she was sick from the virus we all hate. Things were critical and there was no way to visit the hospital due to the pandemic rules.
I tried to do what I could. I sent a video message to cheer her up and encourage her. I tried to help find badly needed medicine that was not easily available anywhere. I let our batchmates know in case they could help. Sadly, she succumbed to the illness…
I wanted to write about her last year but I didn’t. I didn’t want to seem like I was using her because she was news and her father happened to be running for position, too. I wasn’t planning on writing about her today either but I’ve now found myself doing it.
I didn’t write about her because I felt that my experiences with her paled compared to what people shared in an online public tribute. I felt that I let her down. I felt and still feel mad at myself for all the times I declined going to her place. We were even planning something for her workers, but it didn’t pan out…I doubted if I was worthy to be called her friend…
But now, looking back, we were friends. Who’s to say we weren’t? ‘Cause I felt it, I felt the realness. I’ve just always been too insecure of my own self-worth. I should’ve opened my eyes and appreciated friends like her a little more.
I really do miss you, Colette. I know you did not want to go yet, but I know you are now in a better place. Rest in peace, my friend. Let’s jam when we finally meet again.
(This is me singing both the female and male versions of this song we loved to jam to.. I am imagining her strumming her guitar…You can judge me, just dont’ tell me, hee…Oh, and don’t mind the distant barking.)