I’ve wanted to write this post for a long time. Some of you might find it macabre and weird. Others will totally understand. Either reaction is just fine.
I’m one of those people who hates to lose touch with old friends. I Google people I cared about from my past. I ‘friend’ people I went to kindergarten with on Facebook. I don’t live in the past, but I do hold on tight to treasured memories.
There is a significant person from my past who cannot be found via Google or on Facebook, because she died when she was 29, before most of us had even heard of the Internet. She was, for many years, my best friend, and I’m writing this post because I want her to be “findable”.
I met Diane in our 7th grade French class, and already she was more intriguing than anyone I knew. Our French teacher’s pronunciation of “Diane” sounded something like “Zan” to us, and we began calling each other by that name. Since I was taller, I was Big Zan and she became Little Zan.
Zan didn’t have an easy life. Her parents were divorced and she lived with her grandmother and aunt in a neighborhood that was not the best. She was extremely smart, loyal and very loving. She was also a little wild and irresponsible, skipping school, sneaking the occasional beer, and smoking more than the occasional cigarette. My parents, while they fell in love with her as most people did, were afraid some of her worst traits would rub off on me. I was praying they would, because while I tried hard to be cool, she was cool without trying.
I lost her a long time ago, but I doubt there is a day that goes by that I don’t think of her. During the past few days, I’ve thought of her a good deal, and here’s why: my office is a wreck as I near deadline. It’s piled with papers and research books everywhere. It’s hot and there’s a hint of panic in the air. It reminds me so much of the last week of our senior year of high school. Zan and I had plans to spend the summer together at the Jersey Shore, working as waitresses on the boardwalk, renting a hovel, and living for two whole months without parental supervision. (I still can’t believe my parents agreed to this!). At the eleventh hour, though, we learned that Zan wasn’t going to graduate because she hadn’t bothered to write five or six essay papers and needed to attend summer school. Our plans for a summer of freedom were doomed. So, we came up with a different plan: Zan moved into my house for that last week of school (thanks to my amazing parents, again), and together we wrote her papers (and the one I had left to write). My room was piled high with papers, research books and the air had more than a hint of panic. We took turns at the old Smith Corona (dating myself here!), typing until our fingertips were raw, and we pulled it off. She graduated, and we spent the summer doing truly decadent things down the shore and becoming even closer friends.
We spent our first two years of college together at Glassboro State in New Jersey, each of us dropping out after our sophomore year and moving to different parts of the country. We stayed in touch, though not as often as I wish we had. A few days before she died, we had a four hour phone conversation and I have always been glad for that extra time with her. She was about to finish her degree in Geography from the University of South Florida, and she sounded happier than I’d ever heard her. A few days later, she was murdered by an intruder. It’s still unbearable to think about.
I love this picture of her, taken by our Glassboro State suitemate, Jody Pfeiffer. It’s a sad picture, but it captures what I loved best about Zan: her sensitivity, her pensive nature and her beautiful eyes.
So now Diane Mary McCrone is “findable” on the Internet. That may not mean anything to anyone else, but it means something to me. Thank you for letting me share her with you.