This is in remembrance of Ila Pollard, who passed away in a car accident in 2005. She was a classmate, as well as a friend, of mine. I posted this on my regular blog (http://sambo1996.wordpress.com/) but I thought many people on YWP would really appreciate this.
There is something about January that gives it a certain solemnity. I don’t know what this is–whether it’s the death of sleepless nights, the dismal and cloudy weather, or the fact that we remember someone who held such a great part of our hearts. I can’t help but feel that there is a correlation between the three.
We lost someone 7 years ago, on an icy January day in the 3rd grade. Ila Pollard–for those of you who know her, I hope you will read this with smiles on your faces, like the one she always had. Those of you who don’t know her, I hope I can convey the same feelings we felt for her through these words.
Every year, I have made it a tradition to write something about Ila. Sometimes I write something that is hidden within my journal; other times, I want to keep her memories alive as much as I can.
You know, in the days of growing up, we find that we have so many complexities about people. We find faults in people—that is, unfortunately, human nature. But once in a while, I believe that someone comes along who seems flawless–who can change people in ways they don’t realize. And this person, in my life and in the lives of my peers, was Ila. Ila was always one of those people who made others smile, and I say this not only to respect the presence she held in our lives, but also because it’s sincere. She was the girl who made the days a little brighter, with her notorious toothy smile. And though I can remember very few memories of her, this smile is the one prominent thing I will never forget in my life.
Ila and I were never best friends, but friends definitely. She was unique in her maturity as such a young child—the way she took to people. There are two particular memories I remember with Ila. I’ve probably written about them every year, but it’s to rewind the only memories I have left.
Every year, for my birthday, I used to bring in ice cream cake for my class. I’d dress up in flowery dresses, and my parents would come take pictures of me with my entire class. In second grade, this was no different. My mom picked up a cake from Friendly’s, driving to our beloved Central around snack time. Like I said, Ila and I were never good friends. But for some reason that day, in passing conversation perhaps, my mom remembered that Ila was allergic to chocolate. And this poor girl, with an allergy to such an irresistible good, was probably expecting to sit out from the cake-eating. When my mom arrived, she had in her hand a bowl from Friendly’s–an ice cream sundae just for Ila. I can remember only parts of that day. I can remember her face–how happy it made me to see that my birthday was going well for everyone. I can remember that she kept the ice cream in her cubby for the entire day, and we laughed and laughed about the soupy texture it became at the end of the day.
The second memory I have of Ila is from the third grade, the same year she passed away. During that year, my prized possessions were my two parakeets, Simba and Nala (who, to my dismay, refused to ever fly). One day, I took in Simba and Nala for our traditional “show-and-tell”, where I found they were great hits. At recess that day, I faintly remember running to grab Ila to show her my birds (she wasn’t in my class). I must’ve told her about them–we must’ve shared that love for animals. But why this memory sticks out is because it was the last time I remember being with her–laughing with her, and seeing her smile. I don’t remember if this was winter or summer. I don’t remember how many months or days later it happened. I just remember that this memory imprinted in my mind all I have left of her.
To those of you who don’t know Ila, you may not understand the significance of any of this. These are probably little, almost insignificant moments of everyday—but it’s what we remind ourselves of to keep her spirits alive. Though it can be easy to reflect back upon the day it happened, it’s time to move away from that dreaded January 20th, and remember the good times before that, along with the feelings she gave us when we thought of her. I think this is the most we can do to really respect who she was in our community.
So, Ila, there is nothing more that can explain how much we miss you. Every year, we dedicate today and May 6 to you—days that scatter your name across Facebook walls and texts, across thoughts, across conversations. And then there are those days you happen to show up anyways. Don’t forget that you will be forever remembered, and don’t forget the colossal amount of people who love you and that smile of yours!