I met Sindy in 7th grade Homeroom. Our last names are close in the alphabet and she sat behind me. As far as our similarities go, that was about it. We both were in band and chorus and felt as though the band teacher was just a TAD lame. But we got along if nothing else as friendly acquaintances for 7th and 8th grade. In 9th grade we started hanging around the same people so we hung out more. It was really my senior year when we really started hanging out and becoming close. Again we hung out with the same people, but we were also more mature and noticed we had more in common than we thought. After high school we kept in touch as well as my then girlfriend (now wife) remained good friends with her. We went our separate ways, her to culinary school, me to college. Slowly but surely, we became closer and I became close with her family. Her family let me work on their computer when I was studying how to repair them, and she told me how her dad works (I’m sure she’d laugh at the interactions we’ve had since!). She truly was one of the best friends we had. We even had her do a reading and her sister sang in our wedding (though much to my dismay her parents sat with her on my wife’s side!)
I remember when she was looking for a job in the area, she was down to a prominent hotel in the area, or a restaurant chain. I, being the stellar career counselor that I am, told her to go with the hotel. She promptly went with the restaurant chain. She started out doing the prep. Eventually she worked her way up to cook, and before we knew it, she was 2nd in command in another location of the chain. One day my wife and I surprised her at her work when we went to visit my grandmother in the hospital. It was out of the way, but we knew we wouldn’t have this opportunity again anytime soon, if ever again. Sindy was elated to see us. We couldn’t help but feel proud that we were seeing our friend pretty much run an entire restaurant. It was unbelievable. Later that year, the inevitable happened – Sindy got her own restaurant. We knew it was only a matter of time. We were so proud of her. We had nicknames for each other, I was tech man because of my experience with computers, she started out as Chef Boyardee, but then changed to Iron Chef (For obvious reasons I she preferred Iron Chef to Chef Boyardee) . Life was good, all for about eight months or so.
About eight months later my sister in law called us freaking out, apparently Sindy was in the hospital. Sure enough, Sindy has autoimmune hepatitis. As soon as we could, we drove up to see Sindy. We stayed for awhile. So many people came and went. It was amazing how many people loved her and wanted to see her. She had so many flowers in her room, one of her nurses who was allergic to flowers had to wear a face mask when she came into Sindy’s room. We laughed so hard that time it was great. I honestly don’t recall a time when I had more fun in general, let alone at a hospital.
But the happiness was only temporary. Sindy eventually slipped into a coma and eventually passed. It was six year ago today.
Her funeral was unique. It was more of a celebration of life. Not that funerals aren’t a celebration of life, but this was special because her family requested everyone wear bright colors instead of the traditional black. We laughed, we cried. And the meal after the funeral? Where else? The restaurant chain I advised her to not get a job at. Where it all started. That night a bunch of us sat around a fire, and toasted her with Coronas. Just as she wanted. My wife and I still have those bottles packed somewhere.
In the six years since, my wife and I have come to call her family our family. We visit them whenever we can and catch up what is going on with each others’ lives. When Sindy passed, my wife and I made a vow that if we were ever blessed with children and if we had a girl, her middle name would be Sindy. Less than two years later, Madison Sindy was born. We make it a point to talk about her “Aunt Sindy” to our daughter and talk about how she is up in heaven watching over her, that her Aunt Sindy is her guardian angel. We show her pictures and she knows Sindy’s family as her aunts and uncle. Four years to the day that Sindy passed, her namesake took her first steps. We truly believe that is no coincidence.
Sindy truly was someone who brightened your day. I’ll never forget her (who could?) I often think what Sindy would think of her namesake. I’m sure she’d say we didn’t have to name our daughter after her (which is the truth, but we wanted to and am glad we were able to) and I think she would laugh very hard at the events that have happened in our lives.
I’m glad that the last memory I have of her, she was laughing. Because that’s what I remember the most about Sindy. Her laugh.