One summer day in June when I was four years old, this little boy knocked over my blocks at day care. The new blonde girl no one talked to came up and pushed him down in my defense. I watched the teacher lead her by the hand to the corner and she turned around and said, "My names Lacey." And from then on, we were friends.
We spent pretty much every day together after that. I moved away from Pawleys Island to Myrtle Beach and into a new house on the beach. There were several bedrooms, and we made up one bedroom to be hers.
As time went by, we got into things we shouldn't have. At age 11, we were staying out past curfew and drinking and smoking and all those lovely things. We did it because it was fun, at the time anyway, not because someone else wanted us to.
So there we all were, Lacey, Jason, Jeremy, Monique, Nicole and Daniel, walking along the street at two in the morning. (It was 10 o'clock and I was supposed to be at Lacey's house.) And along came a police car. Everyone else took off running and the only person who stayed was Lacey. She also remembered that Jason had asked me to hold the pot for him since I had the biggest jacket pockets. She reached in, grabbed one of the sacks and put it in her pocket.
She had always stuck by me through thick and thin, and had allowed me to cry on her shoulder so many times. And yet through all the years I'd known her, she had never cried, not even once. Until one day, when she was 11 and I was 10, she came running over and told me her mother had been taken to the hospital because she'd had a heart attack. As much as she tried to hold back her tears, she failed. She fell to her knees on my front porch and clutched my ankles, crying like she was going to die.
Her mother did survive, and the beatings stopped for a while. Lacey seemed much happier. Then my mother, when I was 11, decided we should move to California. There was no talking her out of it. Lacey and I were to be separated for the first time in seven years. We both knew we'd never stop writing and keeping in touch. And of course, we'd visit when we could, me going to see her of course, because her family couldn't afford that sort of thing.
We kept our promises. We visited and talked and wrote. We went through our ups and downs together, even from 3,000 miles away.
One night, Lacey came home way after her set curfew. She tried to sneak in through the back, but her dad, who was in the next room, heard her. He ran into the room, pulled her by her hair into the living room and began yelling. She yelled back as much as she dared, but when he called her a "worthless two cent tramp," she broke down in to tears. Her dad shot her, simple as that. And his excuse? "I didn't know what else to do to shut her up."
Lacey's mother came in that moment from her sister's home and saw Lacey on the floor bleeding. She brought her to the hospital immediately. Lacey's chances of surviving were slim to none.
Her father was arrested that night, and Lacey, his only child, lay in a hospital room swaying on a slight rope between life and death. She was 14 years old.
Her chances of living increased, and decreased. She was in the hospital the whole summer of '98, and I was 3,000 miles away, praying that she'd be alright.
On August 27th, 1998, she died.
Her father was sentenced to only seven years in jail, and he has a chance at probation next year, in July.
Lacey was one of the most angelic and near perfect people I had ever known. She fought right up until the end, even though she had told me she wasn't sure if she had anything to live for. She was intelligent and wrote some of the most beautiful poetry I'd ever read. She could sing like nobody's business. She loved Jefferson Airplane. She had so many goals set for herself, and her father tore them all away from her because he didn't know how to hug someone and say, "I'm sorry. It's okay."
Although she can't be with me now, she is with me in spirit. And although she's farther away than 3,000 miles, she's much closer to my heart than she ever was before.
I love you Lacey.