Just in time for 9th grade, my family moved again. It was so miserable to be new and not know anyone. There was a certain girl in one of my classes. We started talking, and I told her how hard it was to make new friends.
"I'll be your friend," she said.
And she was. For 22 years.
The first time she invited me for a sleepover, before the days of G00gle and M*pquest, my mother and I drove all over town trying to find where she lived....only to discover that she lived within walking distance of my house.
For her birthday one year, I snuck to school early and filled her locker with Di3t C0ke. Naturally, she had just decided that she was going to try to kick the habit.
She moved after graduation, right as email and the internet were coming out. Until we had email, we wrote letters. I wrote and sent a letter to her every day for a while,
When I was newly married, and living in student housing while my husband finished his degree, I was, again, struggling to adjust to a new place. The student housing was barren (fluorescent lights, cinder block walls), so I decided to make simple table (piano, dresser) runners to try to cheer things up a little. I went to the craft store and carefully selected a variety of bright, happy fabric that was on sale. When I got to the register to check out, I was appalled because somehow, despite the sale, my total came to $50! That was a small fortune at that time, and I just couldn't believe I'd made such a mistake! My Beloved Friend came to visit shortly after that. When she arrived, she handed me $50 and said, "Here! My dad gave me some money before I left so that we could go out to dinner or something. Here's part of the money so that you don't have to keep feeling bad about that fabric."
When I was pregnant with David, we thought it would be so fun if he was born on My Beloved Friend's birthday, but we didn't hold out much hope because his due date was 3 weeks after her birthday. But that was my one charmed pregnancy, and he arrived, 7 pounds, 14 ounces, while I laughed, early on the morning of her 26th birthday.
She invited me into her home as often as I could come visit, so that
Before I got pregnant for the last time, I spent 2 weeks at her apartment, trying to gather my strength for what was to come. When I had surgery at the beginning of that pregnancy, she came and stayed with my children so that my husband could stay with me in the hospital.
Throughout my house there are reminders of her.
Cross-stitches she made for me. One of them is identical to one I made for her because we accidentally picked out the same pattern for each other that year.
A picture we both liked, so I got one for each of us.
A picture she took while she was travelling because she saw something and it made her think of me.
A beautiful, miserable-to-make blanket that she made for me because she knew I'd love it.
A beautiful doily that matches the blanket.
All of these things that remind me that I will never again, in this life, be able to talk to my oldest friend...the person, besides my mother, who had really KNOWN me longer than anyone else in my life. The smart, beautiful, talented, loving person who knew everything about me and loved me anyway.
Someone may be thinking, "Well, gosh, Doing My Best, this is all about YOU. What about your Beloved Friend, who is the person who DIED?" I am CERTAIN that My Beloved Friend is a lot happier than I am at this moment. I know that she is in a better place, with someone she had missed desperately for many years. I am grateful that she is finished fighting the battles in her life, but her absence from this world will leave a hole in my heart for a long time, and I am left to wonder if I could have done more...was I the best friend I could be to her? Should I have called more often? Made one more cross-stitch? Sent one more Crappy Day Present? What vital thing did I leave un-said or un-done?
I don't want to check the mail today. I cannot squash the one small hope I have that I will find a letter from her.
Depression killed my friend, and I didn't get to say goodbye.