In the past, on Memorial Day, I've written about my relatives who've served in the military, but today I want to honor a friend who's doing the same. She and I grew up in the same neighborhood, rarely see eye to eye, but I am so proud to know her, and so proud of what she does.
Jessie and I went all the way through school together, though we didn't really make friends until late middle school when I moved closer to her house. She introduced me to Animaniacs and Aerosmith, and I tried to get her hooked on Shakespeare, and we did Oddessy of the Mind together, an acting challenge, two years in a row. I was a gecko, she was a lunch lady, but that's kind of a long story.
When Jessie and I started high school, everything changed. She started hanging out with the cowboy crowd, a very distinct group at our high school, and I was pretty much just a geek, so we didn't see much of each other. But I always thought about her, and kept her in my heart.
Fast forward to around 2008, when I caught up with her on Facebook, she was about to be sent to South Korea, as she had just joined the Army. She was training to fly (forgive me if I'm wrong, Jessie!) Blackhawk helicopters. She had gotten the flying bug, bad, and was training to fly professionally for the Army.
After a tour in South Korea, she's now preparing for one in Afghanistan. So now when I think about my old friend, I get butterflies in my stomach, knowing she's about to go do what she really wants to do, knowing she'll be in harm's way. But when I see a helicopter in the sky, I tell my daughter that I know a woman who flies helicopters, who is living her dream, who is living proof that women can do absolutely anything.
And I am grateful today, to my friend Jessie, whose heart is as big as the Wyoming sky, and she's giving that heart fully to serving her country.
|Jessie's Senior Picture - this is totally how I remember her :)|