Barb_close upBy Glenn Baja

More Love. This was our song.

“Let it be soon, don’t hesitate
Make it now, don’t wait
Open your heart and let my love come in
I want the moment to start when I can fill your heart with…

It was summer of the year 1967. I was to turn 15 that September.

After that summers move, my family and I were the “new kids” on the block. New friends, new neighbors, and for me, a new junior high to attend come September.

I was young. I was full of energy. I was excited to go.  

I first saw her while walking down the hallway. I couldn’t help but stare as she walked by.

She smiled back at me.  

From that moment on the hallways were my favorite place in the entire school.

She was the most beautiful girl I’d ever seen. Long wavy blond hair running mid-way down her back, a round cheery smile, and those eyes…my God how they sparkled!

She was not only beautiful but kind. That’s a must in my book. Soon, I discovered she was fun, had a happy heart, and liked being with me.

Imagine that!

The most beautiful girl in school, and she liked me!

The next semester we were in typing class together. I was just happy to be sitting next to her.

She was a wizard and helped ole “hammer-fingers” the best she could.

But, I really didn’t care all that much.  

I was already a winner in my eyes.

More love, more joy
Than age or time could ever destroy
My love will be so sound
It would take about hundred lifetimes
To live it down, wear it down, tear it down…

The following summer was hot. The city of Detroit had settled down after the infamous riots of 1967. We did as all kids do at that age by partying as often as we could, pushing parental curfews whenever possible, and discovering new freedoms that having older friends with autos brought.

We double-dated to the drive-in, went to the beach and weekend dances at Camp Dearborn, and traveled that summer with her family to New York where Barb’s mother lived. The draw was the annual clam-bake and grub fest on the beach, a ridiculously great time with loads of scrumptious food, uninhibited fun, and loads of great people, including many of her cousins.

We had such a great time.

Over days, months, and years we played, laughed, listened to music, had parties, danced, cried, made love, and held and supported each other during the difficult times.

We were a couple of kids who believed being in love was all that mattered.

We did our best to make every moment last.

I’d never been so in love in my life.

This is no fiction, this is no act
This is real, it’s a fact
I’ll always belong only to you
Each day I’ll be living to make sure I’m giving you…

Her birthstone was diamond. Mine was blue sapphire. She had green eyes and I hazel.

To this day I have the bracelet she gifted to me with the words “With More Love – Barb”,  inscribed on the back. It’s a memento I still cherish to this day.

More Love was our song. Whenever we’d hear it we’d look at each other and sing it out loud, always emphasizing the phrase, When you need me, I’ll be here.

Life seemed pretty damn great.

More love, more joy
Than age or time could ever destroy
My love will be so sound
It would take about hundred lifetimes
To live it down, wear it down, tear it down

It was the summer after graduation that we went our separate ways. I went off to college and she stayed. We both knew the relationship was over. We had grown. We had changed. Life was taking us in new directions.

We both mourned the loss.

For a little while, in moments of loneliness, we would visit one another. The 3 hour trip only seemed far and distant on the return trip home.

As we grow older, no need to fear
When you need me, I’ll be here
I’ll be beside you, every step of the way
A heart that’s truthful and keeping you youthful with…

For awhile, we fell out of contact.

A few years later her dad had a heart attack and died. Things became really tough. All lives were thrown into turmoil. From the youngest, still in high school, on through to the three oldest, everyone did what they had to do to make ends meet.

Years later I’d heard she given birth to a stillborn child. After that, I’d heard she‘d been in a terrible motor cycle accident, having 12 surgeries over many years in the attempt to fix her ankle and foot. Soon, with no options left, the decision was made to amputate her leg at the knee.

She was devastated.

In 2005 I told her youngest sister, then living in Phoenix, that I’d be in the area and would like to visit. She shared that Barb was presently living in the area as well.

I called Barb. We agreed to get together for dinner.

We were both nervous, once again acting like young kids. We shared at length our life stories, or at least the parts we wished the other to know.

I had traveled the path of marriage and family, choosing to trade time for money, and putting my energies towards being a good provider. She had risked a more challenging one, choosing to be somewhat nomadic in her activities, searching for a peace which always seemed to elude her.

I could sense life hadn’t been kind.

Little did I know we would never see each other again.

More love, more joy
Than age or time could ever destroy
My love will be so sound
It would take about hundred lifetimes
To live it down, wear it down, tear it down

A public Facebook post from her sister is how I heard of Barb’s death. I still don’t know the details.

I’m quite certain she was alone. No family. Probably no friends.

Her siblings didn’t know where she lived. Not even the state. They didn’t have a telephone number, an address, or any way to contact her.

I heard just days ago the last message she shared with her sister nearly two years ago was that she was going to Daytona to die.

Barb is gone. Left, are only the memories, stories, and small keepsakes. I still have the letter I sent her from the time I was in the Bahama’s with my parents on a family vacation during our first year together. It was our first time apart for any length of time, and I really missed her.

I shared in the letter how much I cared for her and how much she meant to me. But when it came time to pen the address on the envelope, I realized I didn’t know it.

I addressed it to her anyways, naming only the street she lived on and the side streets which bordered.  

Amazingly, it arrived.

Barbara sent that letter to me as part of a wonderful scrapbook she put together of her life, and then gifted it to me. I received it in advance of the day we met in Phoenix.

It featured pictures of two young, fearless, crazily-in-love kids on prom night. There were photos of her dad, a man I greatly admired, pics from the 1969 moon-landing party in her back yard, and pics from the fabulous clambakes we loved so much.

The scrapbook was her last act of love towards me.

To this day there is one special part of that scrapbook that moves me more than the rest. Something that stands out heads and tails above all else.   

At the end she inscribed these words…

                          “With More Love.
                 If You Need Me I’ll Be There”  
                                ~Barb

Rest in peace Barb.

You are missed.

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