When Luke started Grade Nine I suddenly heard a LOT of references to Francesca and Antonia. Now with a first name like PATTY – so plain, so seventies – no offence, Mummy, lol, I thought these were such glamorous, feminine names and I could only imagine the young ladies that went with them. Unfortunately, I never actually got to meet either gal until after Luke passed away, but it was clear that from the start they both definitely had a piece of his heart.
Francesca, aka Fran, came into my world the night of Luke’s wake. This waif, with the longest strawberry blonde hair, was sobbing and being supported, literally held up, by a posse of female friends. When she got to the front of the line she looked at me with these huge eyes and said only two words, “I’m Fran.” And two words was all she needed. Because behind those two words was a history – an on-again, off-again romance with Luke. John and I were both aware of how much Luke had cared about this girl. Not from our son’s lips, well, he did make the odd comment, but mostly from everything we found after Luke’s death – the letters, the pictures, the endless text messages. Back in the day, to hear Luke tell it, he and Fran had an intense relationship. He thought she was beautiful and smart and more than a little crazy. lol Crazy in Luke’s world meant she was difficult and trying to control him and we all know how he felt about being controlled. Oi. I don’t want to speak for her, but Fran tells me that as much as they cared for each other, she and Luke were never on the same page at the same time so the boyfriend and girlfriend stage, as most people would define it, didn’t really happen for them. They spent four years going in and out of each other’s world. In an interesting twist of fate, Luke and Fran came together the weekend before he passed away. How’s that for timing? Sigh. Star-crossed lovers for eternity.
Back at the wake Fran falls into my arms, and as she cries, I hold her tight and run my hand repeatedly down her hair, like a momma soothing her child. I remember well the ache of high school love when it is over and to have an ending like this one, well, let’s just say in that moment, Fran became mine.
And I love this girl. Well, she is a young lady now. 🙂 Fran has been gracious enough to share her Luke Inwood and their relationship with me in all of it’s glorious imperfection. She loved his James Dean looks; she did not like being on the receiving end of his sarcasm. She has the best memories of being on the phone with Luke, talking through the night, and watching the sun come up. These past four years I have come to truly value our friendship. She checks in on my heart regularly. She visits where Luke rests easy and then often comes over to see me ice coffees in hand. She shares her new life with me and isn’t afraid to tell me when she has had too much to drink, lol, – Curse you College! – or is maybe crushing on a new young sir. At a time when many of the kiddos have moved up and on, Fran continues to be a steady presence in mine. I love you, Francesca Cavallo!
So here’s what I need you to know, My sweet Fran: High school came to one hell of an ending for you. I KNOW the weight of what you carry every single day. It is not your fault. It is not your fault. It is not your fault. And even though your relationship with Luke wasn’t what you hoped it would be- even though it’s not a fairytale romance- you had LOVE. And as I have had to come to terms with, just because Luke didn’t love us the way we wanted, it doesn’t mean he didn’t love us as best he could. And he did. Once upon a day, or maybe it was more like in the wee hours of the night. There will always be a part of his heart that belongs only to you.
I have a song that makes me think of each of the kids ( cause that’s how I am, lol) and this is the one that will forever remind me of Luke and Fran. It’s a TSwift song that came out right around the same time Luke passed away and it’s about a couple that go in and out of a relationship. The James Dean reference didn’t hurt. Here’s to young love. Xxx