Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My Friend Neelu

Yesterday, the world got a little colder, a little darker when my friend Neelu lost her battle with cancer.  She hadn't told many people that she had cancer, much less how serious it was, so naturally there's a lot of shock and sorrow in our little corner of Facebook today.  My parents and I knew some of what was going on but I think we all wanted to believe that she'd make a miraculous recovery...but she didn't.  We were friends for something like eighteen years.

Neelu and I met on the first day of school in 8th grade.  She and I had I think five out of seven classes together that year, but I didn't really meet her until we got into our English class in the afternoon and she was sitting behind me.  I remember introducing myself and getting her name wrong--I'd heard the teachers call roll all day but I kept hearing "Leelu" instead of Neelu.  Charisse sat in the chair next to us and later in the school year, we made Charisse laugh so hard she fell out of her chair (literally).

We were in a lot of the same classes in high school too, and Neelu was one of my best friends, kind of like the sister I never had.  She lived just a couple of streets away from me, and we spent countless hours doing homework together...the infamous isomer project for our chemistry class, projects for calculus...and neither one of us got along with physics at all well.

We both went to Baylor University for our first year of college...right at the same time, her parents moved to South Carolina for her dad's job, so my family adopted her a little bit for that year.  I was her wheels to get back to the Metroplex to visit with friends up there, and we used to take trips different places just to see what was there...we called them Crazy Tuesday trips and the crazy thing was they happened on Thursdays.  After that first year, Neels switched schools to Clemson in SC so she could be closer to her family, and I didn't see her much after that although we kept in contact.


Neels came back to Texas in 2003 to be a bridesmaid in my wedding.  Our friendship was the kind that we could be apart for months or even years and then pick up as if no time had passed the next time we saw each other.  She was hilariously forthright too...she looked at the scrapbooks Mom and I had made to display at my wedding and she told me, "Yours is nice Christy, but I like your Mom's better!"  Cracked me up because that was so HER--she'd tell you what she thought, her complete unvarnished opinion.

Of course my parents got to know her pretty well too since we were constantly on the phone and she spent a lot of time at our house.  Every time she called the house, I would pick up the phone and she would sing out "It's Neeeelu!"  I was talking to my parents last night and I had completely forgotten this, but Dad insisted on getting a picture of himself with Neelu at my wedding, and it's on his desk at work.

Between Neels and me, we tutored Chris through probably half his classes in high school.  I was in band and they were both in choir so we all spent a lot of time in the fine arts wing of our school.  Neels was in the musical our senior year too, playing Frau Schmidt the housekeeper in The Sound of Music (Chris was, naturally, Captain von Trapp).


I love that she's tugging on Lee's shirt in this picture, like she's saying "TOUGH, you're my brother now so squish in!!"  I don't remember right now if I saw Neelu again in person after I got married, what with us gallivanting all over Asia the last three years, but we still kept in touch and I talked to her on the phone several times last year after she got sick. 

Several years ago, I confided to Neels that I was always nervous about trying to get in contact with someone after a couple of years just because there are so many Christys out there and I always feel like people won't remember me.  "I don't have that problem," she said.  "There's only one Neelu!"

I love you, Neelu.  The world is a sadder place without you in it.

8 comments:

Giffysk8s said...

Oh, Christy...

I am so sad that Neelu lost her battle. It sounds like she was a special person, the kind makes your life better just because you knew her. Although her time here was much too short, it sounds like she touched many hearts. She certainly touched your heart in a special way. I am so sad that you have to say goodbye to such a dear friend, but that doesn't mean you'll ever let go of her...

I have lost several friends to cancer, too. I know how heartbreaking this is for you. I wish I could hug and love and comfort you in person. I'm here for you in whatever way you might need.

Heartfelt hugs and prayers, sweet friend.

Love, Vicki

Charisse said...

She was an amazing person. Funny thing is...I was thinking about that English class this morning when I began reading the news on FB. She never seemed to have a cross word, although working on the isomer project, I am sure that here were some. I did not realize that you two had stayed so close after graduation, but I am glad. It is so sad to lose someone who was so incredibly....nice is the only word I can think of. I will be keeping her family in my thoughts.

Thoughts by B and M said...

Praying for you Christy & your family & hers.....

CCsMom said...

This is such a beautiful tribute, Chris. What a wonderful young woman Neelu was. I know her parents are proud -- proud of the beautiful woman she had become and proud of the valiant fight she waged. She did give it everything she had. We'll always love Neelu, bless her. Love you, Mom

Amber Hight said...

So very sorry for this tragic loss for your family and friends, my girl:( She sounds like the sweetest person ever, a friend everyone should have. I hope you guys find peace soon, love and prayers...
Amber

Haskins House said...

Oh Christy, I think everyone is going to miss her smile and unique character. I was not as close to her as yourself but I haven't ever forgotten about her. I pray for peace for all friends and especially her heartbroken family. This is a beautiful tribute. Great pictures. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

One of the great joys that Nina and I had in raising Christy and Adam was in getting to know their friends. They were always welcome at our house, and it seems like one or two of them were always around.

Even so, Neelu was unique among them. As they all got to know us better, they progressed from calling me Mr. Walker to Rich. But Neelu was the only one to call me Dad (but motst often, it was Dad #2).

Neelu was part of our family for several years, and it is so very hard to think of her being gone. However, it is said that a person is not truly gone as long as someone is alive that remembers them. From that perspective, Neelu will live on in our memory and in our hearts for many years to come.

Rich Walker
Christy's Dad
Neelu's Dad #2

Liz Guidry said...

Still praying for you and Neelu's family. It is so hard when someone you love passes. Let me know if you need anything and I'll come right over!