When did we become best friends? I can’t even tell you the day. What I can tell you about is the day she showed up at Busbee Middle School and I saw her from afar in the cafeteria. I remember April, Vickie, Shelia and I asking each other who was the new girl? Myra told us her name and that they were neighbors. Somehow we all connected and it was history from there. We would go on to be friends at BC High school. As her circle of friends grew, we still remained tight. She could stay out later and I had a curfew. It would be her, Susie, and Satori who would hang out in Columbia having fun and meeting new people and I would be stuck in Cayce looking at my bedroom walls imagining all the fun I was missing. While being forced to live vicariously through them, I never felt left out because LaVette and Susie always made me feel like I was there with them partying, meeting people, and having just plain old fun.
To Clemson University we went and we were determined to get our degrees, have careers, and one day a family. LaVette and I were roommates until our last year. We met many new friends, joined a sorority, and achieved our academic goals. Graduation was a month away and so was my wedding. She was to be the Maid of Honor and that meant her being with me every step of the way. LaVette helped me pick out my dress and she made sure that I was not going to be “too conservative” on my big day. Yes, she was right there until a month before and then she was gone. Just like that! My dear friend lost her life in a car crash and for decades we all were devastated and crushed.
Part of me died the day she passed. It has taken over 20 years for me to grow again and bloom in that same place. The seeds she left behind in myself, Connie, Susie, and our sorors may have taken a while to grow, but in that time we all had to experience a metamorphosis unique to each of us. After all, I’m told it takes 30 years for an oak tree to become fully grown from a tiny acorn. We were just twenty-one and twenty-two year olds dealing with the unfathomable, incomprehensible, and most tragic event that would change our lives forever.
Fast forward 26 years to present day, I can see the roots deepening and stretching across the country. Every seed she planted has birthed a tree which has produced fruit. From Cayce to Clemson, all throughout the Carolinas the roots have spread. From Chandler to Atlanta and up to the Northeastern States, they stretch far and run deep. Her family and her friends will never forget her. The children she worked with while completing her Education Degree will never forget. No one will ever forget LaVette. Her smile and laughter lives in our hearts and memories. I can hear her now saying my name, “Denise”. I see her eyes bright with adventure and I feel her presence like a feather floating in the wind. I miss you, LaVette. Happy 48th Birthday in Heaven!
Sleep in Peace my friend ❤️