My Memories Of Cynch

Boy and girl making a heart shape

Cynthia was a blond, blue-eyed spitfire with freckles and an attitude that wouldn't quit, and I adored her. I guess you would consider her tomboyish, but she was also as sweet as punch. We grew up together, and I called her Cynch. I don't remember why or when I called her that, but I don't remember a time when I didn't. We were inseparable, and every day was an adventure.

When we were still preschool age, and everything seemed grander and still magical, a large hillside off in the distance with low-hanging clouds called to us. It filled our hearts and imaginations with dragons, buried treasure, and the many adventures that surely awaited us. We had a top-secret meeting in her parents' unfinished basement and agreed we would travel to those magical hills and do it soon.

The day arrived, and I remember like it was yesterday. Cynch showed up with two peanut butter sandwiches in plastic baggies, one for each of us and two cans of root beer.

"What are these for?" I asked.

Cinch crinkled her nose and looked at me like I was from Mars. "It's a long way, silly. You want to starve to death?"

I sighed, put the sandwich in my pocket and the can of root beer under my arm. I walked toward the Hills.

"Where are you going?" Her voice had that 'what the heck' sound to it. I pointed toward the hills, and she pointed at our tricycles.

"There ain't any roads, Cynch. We can't ride those."

"We will ride them as far as we can, and then we'll walk."

I knew it was pointless to argue by now, so we got on our tricycles, and off we went. After about 20 feet of riding, we were on foot, abandoning our tricycles as if they were two horses at the end of the dusty trail. She kissed her bike goodbye, and I rolled my eyes and sighed.

The rest of the day is a blur. Those darned hills seemed to get farther and farther away from us the longer we walked. I remember it getting dark and the two of us huddling together in a field. I remember the sounds of our names being shouted and of flashlights searching until they found us. And boy do I remember the trouble we got into.

In the driveway back at home, all the adults were angry and scolding us. The usual stuff. How could you? We were so worried. We thought someone took you, and on and on. The voices became like a slurry of words, flowing in and out of my head, and I felt disoriented as I looked over at Cynch, who was giggling.

"What are you laughing at?" I whispered.

"You look so cute when your face gets all red."

I ran into the house and slammed the door behind me, and I didn't talk to Cynch all the next day. Well, most of the day.

Time always seems to go on forever when you are kids, but soon we were in high school together, and like everything in life, things changed. Like brother and sister, we had always been close, but now I was developing deeper feelings for Cynch. We dated other people some but then realized what we always knew, that we loved each other. Things grew from there, but nothing changed too much. Cynch and I were still inseparable and had many adventures together. When our class had the chance to take a trip to Washington DC, we were thrilled. We found ourselves at the Smithsonian Institute Museum, and it was fascinating.

We had been there most of the day, and our class was in a section where a replica of George Washington's home was on display. It depicted his home as it was being built. There was a staircase rising to a hidden room at the top, begging for exploration.

Cynch pulled my ear close to her mouth, and I remember it tickled. "Wouldn't you like to go up there?"

"Sure, but look at the signs. They say Keep Out, so we better not."

"Oh, come on! No One's looking, and it will be fun." She gave me that look. The one I could never say no to.

Cynch walked over to the stairs and removed the sign attached to a red velvet cord. She started forward and stopped, but I fell for her trick. My foot hit the bottom stair, and I want to tell you, every siren and alarm ever made went off. I can still see the other students rushing towards us; some rather grim security guards, like burly linebackers, rushed and grabbed us. Our teacher explained what had happened, and we were let go, but I knew I was in trouble once we got back to the hotel.

I glanced over at Cynch after our teacher finished lecturing me. She was giggling, and so I shot her a look that said, "what?"

"I think you're cute when you get all red like that," she whispered. I couldn't run away this time, so I just looked at her and smiled.

Cynch and I decided we were going to the same college in Minnesota. What an adventure this would be! Being separated and away from Cynch had me tied in knots, so this was a wonderful surprise and relief. It was so much fun making plans, and it would be an experience to live in a big city. We decided we would get married after college, so we wouldn't share a room. The two of us would keep dating like we were for now until we got our degrees. We wouldn't see our friends for a while, so that summer before college promised to be full of fun, adventure, parties, and celebrations of friendship.

But then Cynch got sick. It was some kind of heart defect I still can't pronounce, nor do I want to. I remember all kinds of talk about treatments or surgeries or something, but it's all a mixed-up jumble I have no desire to untangle. All I knew was that Cynch was sick, and I didn't know what to do.

I spent every moment I could with her in the hospital. We still laughed and enjoyed the time we spent together, but she was slipping away from me. The day came when I could see the look of defeat in her parents' eyes, but I kept hoping and hanging on for dear life.

I wish I could say I was with Cynch when she passed away, but I had fallen asleep in the waiting room. Her parents woke me to tell me the worst news I could have ever imagined, and I remember nothing else after that. I remember little of the funeral. I only know I was there because people told me I was.

Things were bad for a while. I don't think I was clinically depressed, but I think I came close. I always do what I always do when I need to work stuff out and go up into the mountains for a couple of weeks. It was close to the end of summer now, and I had postponed college for a year, so I had time. Before I left for the mountains, I stopped off at Cynch's parents because they told me they had something for me.

Cynch's mom handed me a little box with a bow on it. She told me Cynch gave it to her a few weeks before she passed and asked her mom to give it to me when the time was right. I took it, put it in my backpack, hugged her parents goodbye, and went up into the mountains. I couldn't bring myself to open it for over a week. When I decided it was time, I sat down on a fallen tree trunk and unwrapped the box. Inside was a lovely letter I will cherish forever (I won't reprint it), this tiny little bear, and a small instruction note. It read:

Please carry this little bear with you. I put a red ribbon on it because it reminds me of your red face when you blush. Just like you're doing now.

I carry the little bear with me everywhere, and I always will. It’s my Cynch bear, and I put it in a cloth pouch before it goes in my pocket to protect it. The nose on the little bear has frayed, but other than that, it has held up well. And whenever life throws a punch, I close my eyes and give the bear a gentle squeeze, and that blond, blue-eyed spitfire with freckles is with me again, smiling and handing me a peanut butter sandwich. And then I know things will be okay.  I will love you forever, Cynch.

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