Why, Why, Why?

I ask myself all the time when someone leaves us.

43 years of age, it’s just too young to die.

It’s mid-life for crissakes!

You still have half of your life to live.

One of the sweetest girls I knew growing up in Windsor Terrace left us last week.

She is gone but not forgotten.

I first met Joanne Mackay when we were 12 years old.

I used to play on Windsor Place between 9th and 10th avenue with the Cullen’s who lived right down the street from her.

We both had Mr. Civello as our sixth grade teacher at Holy Name; it was the first year the catholic school went co-ed.

Joanne was always laughing, always smiling.

Her cheeks would turn beat-red when she was laughing.

I’m not sure if I should reveal this but, what the heck.

I had a crush on her starting at the age of 12, all the way to 15.

We used to talk a little bit in school, or out in the schoolyard.I’d see her in the neighborhood and say hello.

I always got nervous when talking to her.I’d walk away thinking to myself, ‘damn it Steve, you blew it!’

In the 8th grade we went on our annual class trip to Great Adventure in New Jersey.

All four classes boarded charter buses and to my surprise, Joanne sat in the open seat next to me.

It turned out to be a great day. (Relax; we were always just friends after that)

I’d always see Joanne sitting on her stoop petting a dog.

If I was coming or going from the Cullen’s I’d always say hi.

Some nights I’d stop and chat with her for a bit.

One day while we were talking some guy pulled up in a car and she said she had to go as she jumped off the stoop and jogged over to the car.

I later found out it was her boyfriend.

I was crushed.

My friends and I used to hang out in Prospect Park and on the parkside at night.

For a few nights Joanne hung out with us because she went to O.L.P.H. with a couple of the girls that hung out with us.

It was great seeing her.

We’d walk home across Ninth Avenue together; she’d hang a left down Windsor and I’d cross the street to where I lived. But then she stopped showing up.

I didn’t see Joanne for years after that.

I always wondered how she was doing.

I never really told her how I felt about her.

So I’ll take this time now, and hopefully she is logging on up in heaven and reading Container Diaries.

“Joanne, you were one of the nicest people I ever met.Your smile was infectious and your laugh was heard all over the neighborhood.You touched a lot of people.You had so much vigor, so much enthusiasm.I wish you would’ve kept hanging out with us in the park as teenagers.Joanne, I miss you.”

A few days ago I blogged about 8th grade autograph books…Joanne signed mine and since the news of her death, I have opened it each day and have read her message to me.

The Mackay’s were a very nice family.I played basketball with Billy.

There was also John, James and Joanne’s twin brother Michael who passed away from cancer at an early age. Michael was the salt of the earth.I remember in the second grade I didn’t know the answer to a question on a test, Michael sat across from me and I looked over at his paper to copy off of him.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Joanne’s family. We will always remember you.

Joanne Mackay, RIP.