My Murdered Friend
Almost forty years on, and I never knew.
June 28, 2012 - 12:00 am
Early in October 1971, six young women in Vancouver, students at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, went to a dance one evening. Their names were Gerry, Gail, Linda, Laura, Gemma, and Eileen. Deciding the dance wasn’t any good, they went instead to Linda’s place, and “we all had quite a good time.” Adding to their enjoyment were two bottles of rum.
I know this because Gerry told me about it in a letter, which I still have. She’d moved to Vancouver in September from Fort St. John, a small town in northeastern British Columbia where she’d always lived until then. She was now in her first year of a two-year X-ray technicians’ program at BCIT. She was also quite near the end of her life.
I met Gerry in August 1970. I was almost sixteen, living in Clifton Park, New York, a small town in the radius of Albany. Gerry, almost seventeen, was visiting with relatives not far from where I lived, and I encountered her one day at the outdoor basketball court where she’d been watching us play. I don’t recall how long she’d already been visiting, but I do recall that there was exactly a week left to her visit. That evening I took her for a walk in the development, and a weeklong, youthful romance began.
After that we corresponded for about a year and a half, from September 1970 to late 1971 or early 1972. It was I — then a twelfth grader — who broke it off, telling her in a letter that I didn’t think we should keep writing (more on that later). My last letter from her is from November 1971; it makes no mention of any end to our correspondence and in fact expresses a good deal of affection. I had thought that, in response to my (stupid) letter saying we should stop writing, she’d sent me a regretful reply; but if so I haven’t been able to find it.
However, it’s clear from some temporal gaps that I’ve indeed lost some of her letters, and it’s possible – probable — that she did send me such a regretful reply, since it wouldn’t have been like her not to reply at all.