Thinking about writing this makes my heart race and my chest feel tight. As I think about what to say my eyes fill up with tears. Sometimes I don’t think it is possible to really, truly get over the passing of a dear friend. I’ve accepted it, but I‘m not necessarily over it.
I remember the phone call like it was just this morning. It was around 6am and Kiesha called me – and she never calls me, especially not at 6am so I think she must need some help. I quickly answered the phone and she says, “Ashley, Sarrah is dead. She got in a car accident and she is dead.” At this point I can’t cry or believe it. I am positive that this is either a bad dream or they made a mistake and she actually isn’t dead. I urge myself to wake up from this dream and can’t so I then hear myself automatically saying, “What can I do to help? What do you need?” She gave me a list of people to call so I got off the phone and made my way down the phone list. I laid in bed for hours and it took what felt like an eternity to really start crying, for it to really sink in. And then I couldn’t stop crying, for what felt like another eternity.
These days to keep the tears from streaming down my face I think of all the memories I get to treasure that I was so lucky to share with Sarrah.
I vividly remember the first time we ever spoke. I was on my way home from Orcas Island with David and we were stopping at a gas station. I got a text from Sarrah, my future college roommate asking me what I like to do for fun.
From there we created memories of Ling Lings, McGrizzly Izzlys, sitting in the front row of every class, staying up in bed all hours giggling, sexy Mexi, long drives from Spokane to the Pass and from the Pass to Spokane listening to J Biebs and country music… all alongside the day to day memories you get to make living in the same space as someone for two years.
There was the time we woke up at 3am to drive home from Spokane for Thanksgiving. The weather reporter said there was a storm coming and we figured we would just beat the storm because we needed to celebrate thanksgiving… but really I just needed to see my long time high school boyfriend and she was always down for an adventure, so we made the trip.
And then there is the memory I will hold close to my heart - the day Sarrah taught me how to paint. After I told her I’ve never really painted she was so surprised. She told me all about her high school art teacher and then decided that next time we went home she was going to bring all of her painting materials to school.
Once we started painting we did not stop. We painted for hours, sometimes even through the night. We’d eat popcorn and dino nuggets or order Thai food takeout if we were feeling fancy. We would invite all of our friends into our room to paint with us and tell them, “Paint whatever you want! There are no mistakes in painting.”
This is exactly what she told me the first time we painted. I had no idea what to do or how to start and she just said, “It’s not hard. Don’t think too much about it…just paint.” She knew when I was starting to get discouraged and would tell me that I couldn’t make a mistake because art is whatever I want it to be. So I painted without hesitation. Soon our walls were covered in art we made. I would take pictures of things I painted and post them to Facebook; proud of the art I was creating.
And then I got a message from a senior boy in my psych class wanting to buy a piece of my art (see the last picture). It was not a good piece of art and in fact, looking back at it, it was kind of terrible. At this time we were painting so much that we couldn’t afford canvases so we used big sheets of paper. We were painting with acrylic so the paper would start to crinkle and the layers of paint would chip off and it was just…bad. But it was so fun so I didn’t care.
Anyway, this boy asked how much I was selling this painting for and I got so excited because maybe, just maybe, I could be an artist and sell art for a living. Dream big Ashley! His offer actually made me panicky because I hadn’t considered that MY art could be sold… and for actual money... (though I did really like this particular painting) so I gave him the ambitious price of 15 whole dollars. To my surprise he said deal and he would come right over to our dorm room after class. When he got to our room I pulled the piece off the wall, tac hole and all, and handed it over. He gave me the $15 and awkwardly stood in the room trying to start a conversation. I was completely oblivious as to what was going on and really wanted to move on with my day so I wasn’t really engaged in the small talk. I think he got the hint, thanked me for the cool painting and left. Once the door was closed Sarrah laughed hysterically. I really had no idea why. Well, apparently and quite obviously this guy was hitting on me and really just spent $15 on a bad piece of art.
To this day I paint, but only for fun. I will fondly remember the first and only painting I ever sold but more importantly I will never forget the funny, vibrant, kind and fearless red head who has left her mark on my heart and taught me how to paint.
And when I paint I think of you. And I paint boldly, knowing that I can make no mistake.