She was my person.
We’d been best friends for ten years. And we’d done everything in those ten years together–picked up the pieces of each other after heartbreaks, danced the night away at bars until we stumbled out at 2AM with our shoes in our hands, keys to each others apartments on our key rings, spent summers at the lake, saw Dave Matthews in concert more times than I can count, pinkie promises, left each other as emergency contacts at our jobs, stood in each other’s weddings, and were there for each other in the delivery room when we stepped into motherhood.
She knew me inside and out. All of my secrets, insecurities, inside jokes, dreams, hopes, and fears. She knew I had a mole on the bottom of my foot, that I was allergic to mushrooms, and that the smell of vanilla gave me a headache. I knew her coffee order, how she liked her eggs, and called her parents “Mom and Dad.” I was the witness who signed her marriage certificate and was in the delivery room when she had her daughter. She spent three days sleeping in a chair in the NICU with me after we had Callie. She stood side by side with me as I tried to get my footing after Callie’s open heart surgery and her amputation surgery. It was on her shoulder that I cried tears of grief and in her lap where I wept for what I felt I’d lost. We texted each other “Love you” every morning when we woke up and every night before we went to bed. We could have an entire conversation without even uttering a word. She was my historian– holding all the core memories, experiences, and milestones for those ten years.
T & J. J & T.
As a woman, you don’t start building a friendship with the idea that you will also need to build yourself an exit strategy from it. You don’t think about how to build a trap door or wear a parachute in case you need to rapidly exit the friendship. You build friendships expecting them (with time and effort) to be lifelong–that with each phone call, lunch date, vacation, crying session, group chat, yoga class, and girls night out–you are laying that foundation.
Brick by brick. Just like a house. And once the friendship gets to a certain point, it’s assumed–this person is your person. They are going to go the distance, be there for the long haul, stay with you through thick and thin.
It never entered my mind that this friendship wasn’t going to last. That this person I trusted with my life, who had dried my tears, picked me up from the depths of hell, and celebrated me on the mountain tops would EVER leave me.
Until one day, she never answered my calls again.
I wracked my brain–our last conversation had ended with “Love you” the night before so there wasn’t any red flag that I had done something to upset her. She was supposed to come help me set up for Callie’s birthday party that day and when she never showed, I knew something was wrong. I panicked, thinking she had gotten in a terrible accident so I reached out to her husband. His gentleness with telling me that she was indeed fine and very much alive at home was both comforting, confusing, and frustrating to me.
If we didn’t have a fight, why wasn’t she answering her phone?
I sent her a million texts. Left probably a million and one voicemails. Desperately trying to find out what was wrong, what I had done, and why she was upset with me.
She simply disappeared from my life. Ghosted me.
I was devastated. Absolutely heartbroken. It was worst than when my college boyfriend broke up with me. I cried for weeks. I grieved the loss of my best friend even though she was very much alive two miles away from me. I drove myself crazy analyzing our conversations over the past few months hoping to find some clue to what had upset her, what transgression I’d made, or at what point in our friendship I’d become too “much” of a burden for her. I studied our text message history, reading between the lines hoping to find the one that really meant “You’re an awful human and I’m going to abandon you out of the blue without telling you why or give you any sort of closure.”
I questioned my own value–was I really that easy of a person to leave? Was I that replaceable? Did the last ten years mean nothing? Didn’t she miss me? Losing her was so hard but knowing that losing me didn’t hurt her in the slightest bit was even harder.
I grieved and mourned her loss. And what was hardest is that there were no books I could reference or movies that depicted “break ups” like this–if I was getting divorced or breaking up with a boyfriend? There were entire roadmaps for that. Breaking up with a friend? Zilch. And when I tried to share how I felt with others, they automatically tried to “find” what was obviously wrong with me that would make her want to leave me in the first place or stood their awkwardly not understanding how to handle my grief.
I just didn’t understand. We weren’t friends anymore and we weren’t enemies….now we were strangers with ten years of memories?
Years later, it would be easy for me to paint her as the villain in this story now. For me to tell everyone how horrible she was, how wrong she was, and what hurt she caused.
But the thing is, I can only say what I know about her.
And in the ten years I knew her, she was always kind. Generous to a fault. Hilarious. Caring. Smart. Strong. Compassionate. Loving. Funny. Tenacious. There for the people she cared about. Giving. Nurturing.
So for someone like that–leaving me must have been a very hard choice for her but it must have been what was best for her. Maybe leaving gave her peace, or it made something easier in her life, or it freed her up to change herself without staying connected to someone who was a reminder of the past. Maybe she didn’t have the capacity to walk through the grief of Callie’s disability diagnosis with me anymore, maybe she no longer needed someone who knew her as well as I did in her life, or maybe someone like me didn’t fit in in the new life she was trying to create.
I don’t know why she never spoke to me again but I’d like to think that it was the best decision for her at the time–and as her best friend, I only want the best for her even if that means I no longer get to be a part of her life.
When I was younger, my mom always used to leave the front porch light on for me at night. Whether I was babysitting, working late, or out with friends, no matter what–when I came home the darkest nights were brightened by that soft glow of the porch light. It symbolized welcoming me in, letting me know she was expecting me, and that someone in that home cared about me.
So my old friend….if for some chance you come across this piece.
I hope you’re doing well and I still leave the porch light on for you.