Goodbye, Arden Dale, July 29, 1959 – July 13, 2014

This is turning out to be a less than stellar year for news of friends. I realized today that I’d missed the birthday of my best friend from high school, so I went to her Facebook page to leave her a late birthday greeting — only to see picture upon picture with memories and goodbyes.

Arden in The Cloisters, 1989/90

We hadn’t been part of each others’ lives for a long time, and I hadn’t seen her in about 20 years. But she was incredibly important to me during difficult and formative years, and I would not be the person I am now without her. I wish so much that we could have seen each other again. Last year, we missed both being in Oregon at the same time by a couple of weeks.

Birthday party
A surprise birthday party Arden organized for me in high school

Here’s a poem I wrote for her almost 30 years ago now:

I sit in the sun
watching the lizard
in stripes of gray and brown
with a truncated tail
scuttle along
the sun-baked stone wall
at my back.
The lizard lost it,
but what did she need it for?
It will grow back
She is resilient.

These are the contents
of content:
I have myself,
the lizard,
the sun,
the wall,
the pen in my hand
to reach a friend
halfway around the world.

She has not seen the lizard,
though she knows the wall.

Arden Dale and Ruth Nestvold
Arden taking me to the airport for Germany, 1978

Goodbye, Ardie.

20 thoughts on “Goodbye, Arden Dale, July 29, 1959 – July 13, 2014”

  1. Oh, no! I’m so sorry about the lost of your dear friend. It sounds like she was a wonderful person and well-loved by you. It’s amazing how the people we get close to when we’re young are so deeply entwined around our hearts, even all these years later.

  2. Hi Ruth, thanks so much for writing this! I had just, on a whim, found her FB profile and excitedly sent her a friend request about a month ago. Checking in around her birthday I had the same sad, dizzying shock. I still can’t quite wrap my mind around it. When I thought about it, I only knew her for a few years up close, but she always took up a big space in my heart, and always will.

    1. Glad you appreciate it, Kim. Really bad shock for me today, I have to admit.

      We should get together again the next time I’m in Eugene. The losses of this summer are really giving me a kick to the gut and making me want to connect with old friends again.

  3. Oh, Ruth. I grieve with you.

    I don’t know if these types of things will bring you comfort – but when I looked at Arden’s dates, a chill went through me. She and I share a birthday. More than that, July 13 is the birthday of our middle child, Elijah, who died at 12 days old.

    Even without your lovely post and photos, I will hold her close in my memories for those reasons.

    My husband is a native Oregonian, too. His mother and stepdad and a sister live in Sprigfield, his dad lives in Dexter, and another sister lives in Salem.

    I am sending you so much love as you mourn this loss. And that last picture – I think it belongs in a special place in your life. It is so evocative.

  4. Hugs to you, Ruth. It looks as though the two of you shared some precious memories. The images they conjure, the smiles, the laughter, even the tears…those are yours to hold in your heart and so, with them, your friend.

    1. Thanks, Kathi. I’ve been trying to comfort myself some with the idea that Arden is definitely a part of me. And she was the kind of person who is probably a part of many, many people.

  5. Sometimes I think the lessons of these years is to bring close those we cherish, love them all as intensely as possible, knowing each moment is precious, and knowing the moment comes when we shall have to let go. The pictures, poetry, and words all say Arden was loved and will be remembered. May even that much bring healing and that joy of dear friendship again, in memory.

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