A True Friend
“This can’t happen to me!!! It just can’t!!” I screamed. I ran out of my English class, towards the guidance office, but there they were waiting for me. I quickly did a 180, and dashed out the side door. I ran as fast as I could towards the little woods behind Greenwood High School. I wasn’t sure where I was going or when I was going to stop, I just needed some time to think. I found a big apple tree and slumped down on one of its big roots. It was here that I stayed until late at night. Millions of thoughts were going through my head all at once; how could this have happened? She was fine yesterday! I saw her last night! Why did this happen? She was only 16. Tears filled my eyes as I thought of how Stephanie looked last night. She is so beautiful, I thought, I just don’t understand.
“RING!” The bell for my last class just rang. “Great guys, we’re late again,” I said to Kara. “Yea, Mrs. Oaks is going to kill us.” We slammed our lockers shut and sprinted to room 207. Maybe Steph will be in there, I thought to myself. She hadn’t come to school today and I had tried calling her eight times during lunch, but got no answer. Kara must have been thinking the same thing, “Hey, do you think Steph will be there?” I just shrugged. It was really odd for her not to come to school without telling one of us first. As soon as Kara and me entered the room we expected to get the death look from Mrs. Oaks. The look that says if I wasn’t so old and weak, I would kill you with my bear hands for being late, but we didn’t get it. Instead, she looked at me with a sorrowful look and quietly shut the door. Then she went to the front of the room with a little piece of paper in her hands, sat on her bench, and didn’t speak a word. The whole class became silent. Even though we sometimes think Mrs. Oaks is senile, this was a little bizarre for her. “What the hell is goin’ on?” Some kid asked from the back of the room. We all started snickering, but were interrupted when she stood up and said the words that will ring in my mind for the rest of my life; “I have some tragic news.” Then she read from the piece of paper, “One of our fellow students was in a car wreck this morning. Stephanie Daprile was pronounced dead at 7:43 a.m.” That was all I heard. I suddenly felt numb and dead to the world. People were talking all around me but I felt as if I was a million miles away. That is when I ran. I ran towards the guidance office, and I could see Mr. Gardner waiting for me with open arms. No! I didn’t want to talk to him; I didn’t want to talk to anyone.
Steph was like an angel. She even looked like one. If she looked at someone a certain way, she could get anything she wanted. Guys were always drooling over her brown curly hair or her big brown puppy dog eyes. I always asked her, why not take advantage of that? She would always reply with, “We are here to add what we can to life, not to get what we can from it.” I never really understood that, but the more I sat underneath that tree, the more things Steph said became clear. I leaned back against the tree, closed my eyes and remembered my childhood.
All through middle school, my parents would have horrible fights. Sometimes they were so violent I was even terrified of staying there. In 8th grade one night, I woke up to a crashing glass sound. I opened my door to find my dad throwing glass jars at my mom. Both were screaming at each other and telling them they hated each other. Me, thinking I would be able to stop it, stepped out from my room and yelled at my parents. My dad threw a glass jar at me, then left. I reached for my mom for comfort, but she blamed him leaving on me. I ran to my room, locked the door, and climbed out my window. Before I even knew where I was going, I ended up at Steph’s apartment. I was crying, wet, tired, and angry. I managed to launch a couple rocks up to her 3rd story bedroom window. She eventually lifted it and said, “Kristen? Is that you?” I couldn’t speak, I just fell to the ground. In a matter of seconds Steph was there at my side. Even though it was 3:30 in the morning on a school night, she wasn’t mad. She held me tight. She didn’t ask what the matter was, she didn’t have to. She knew it was best to not speak. When I would ask her why, she would reply with, “actions speak louder than words.” From that night on whenever something went wrong at my house, I snuck out the window to Stephanie’s. She never did get mad, whether it was 8 o’clock or 4 in the morning. She never got mad period. If we ever got on the verge of a fight, she would quickly end it. I remember once we got frustrated at each other at school, and we left there still not speaking to the other. I cried all night long, but the next day there was a note on my desk. In it were the words, let’s not let yesterday use up today. I looked over and there was Steph, smiling.
“Kristen!!! Wake up! It’s 8:30.” A familiar voice had awakened me. I looked up to see Kara and my family. I felt like I was on drugs. I could barely move and barely talk. The first thing I managed to say was, “Is it true?” They all looked at me with a look that said I wish I could tell her no. Instead they just nodded their heads. I climbed to my feet and made the everlasting five-minute drive back home. Two days later at the funeral, I had written a little passage for Stephanie. Even though it took a lot of courage, strength, and tears to read, I did. When I was done, I think everyone believe what a true friend Steph was to me. What a true friend she was to everyone.
Stephanie Judith Daprile,
I don’t know where to start. I mean what can I say? You left me. You left me with so many things unsaid, so many things undone, so many secrets left inside, and so many hugs not shared. There will be no more one on one in your driveway, no more walks to Mrs. Curl’s ice cream shop, and no more Saturday morning cartoons. But I guess life isn’t about all that. Life isn’t about who’s going to be your next boyfriend or when you’re going to buy a new pair of shoes. It’s not about what school you go to, how much money you make, or what kind of car you drive. It’s about who you love and how happy you are about yourself. It’s about learning to trust, learning to forgive, and learning from your mistakes. It’s about touching someone else’s live in a way that could change him or her forever, and would never be achieved otherwise. Steph did just that. She touched my life in a way I would have never experienced without her. She told me life is too short, so live each day to its fullest. Reach your potential and your goals. The most important thing Stephanie has ever told me was, “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, it’s the life in your years.”
Steph died on Jan. 7, 1997. I miss her more than anything, but I try not to mourn over it. She taught me to be strong, and to not let yesterday use up today. And if there were an award for the person who most influenced someone’s life, Stephanie would get it in a heartbeat.