You were my first best friend. My first “chosen” family member. We spoke on the phone every morning before fourth grade, even though we knew we would see each other in less than an hour. When we were scared or lonely, or when there was a spider on the wall, we reached for the phone. From the very start, we were attached at the hip, as though nothing could ever come between us.
Middle school came around, and we wore our hair in two braids and talked about boys and all of the scary parts of puberty. While we were too nerdy to talk about fashion or to be up to date on all the gossip, we formed our own little bubble and talked endlessly about all of the tiny details of our days, listening eagerly to one another’s stories.
Hand in hand, ready to embrace the unfamiliar, we entered the shiny halls of high school. We compared schedules and felt a rush of relief to find that we had lunch together and could thankfully avoid having to navigate the cafeteria alone. We shared mixed CDs, tutored each other in algebra, and decorated one another’s lockers for our birthdays. During our sleepovers, we stayed up all night, painting our nails “electric blue” and shrieking as we watched The Ring and Signs.
We were best friends through thick and thin. We shared everything with each other. I trusted you with all of my heart and never thought to question our friendship. I never considered that our friendship could have an expiration date.
So when you suddenly left me one day in the fall, I was devastated.
You stopped passing me notes when I saw you in the hallway between classes. Rather than smiling at me, you gave me the cold shoulder, avoiding eye contact and pretending not to see me. Very suddenly, our close friendship had disappeared, and I no longer had a role in your life.
I was faced with the harsh reality that it was no longer the two of us; it was you, and it was me. It was as if all of our amazing little stories had been erased, as if I had never been a part of your life.
I cried for you. I really cried for you. You knew me better than almost anyone in the world, and you chose to leave me without providing any explanation. For years, I wondered what I did, or what I didn’t do, that caused you to want to walk away. And what hurt the most, what cut the deepest, was that you never said goodbye.
You were my first heartbreak. You were the first person I trusted with all my heart and the first person I loved who let me down. Who left me. You were my chosen sister, my ride or die. I thought we were going to do life together. And then, with no rhyme or reason, you decided that your life would be better without me in it.
You broke my heart. You left me vulnerable and raw, with tears in my eyes. And because you left me, I wondered if our friendship hadn’t been as real as I had thought it was or if I had been oblivious to our friendship being one-sided.
I doubted our friendship, and I doubted what I had meant to you. I wondered why my role in your life had been transient. These doubts led me to question myself. Was there something wrong with me that caused you to need to go? Was I flawed or unloveable? Had I done something wrong?
Because these questions were never answered, and because I never received any closure, it took me a long time to get over you. I was young and innocent and had never been hurt in this capacity before. I had never experienced heartbreak.
I wanted so badly to reach out to you, to talk to you, to make things okay again. But I knew that the you I had known was no longer who you were. I knew that there was no going back and that, however painful it was for me to realize, our relationship was finite.
I missed you. And I still miss you. But I learned that it was more painful to question our friendship and to question myself than it was to realize that sometimes people come and go, and that this is just part of life. Sometimes there’s nothing that we did or didn’t do or could’ve done that would change their leaving. And just because someone was only a chapter or a passerby in our life doesn’t mean that the time we spent with them was any less meaningful. Sometimes the people who enter our lives for only a given period of time can mean the very most to us. They can teach us something special, or they can give us something we didn’t know we needed. They can show us a part of the world we wouldn’t have been able to experience without them. They can teach us how to appreciate what we have while we have it.
And while saying goodbye is always the most painful part, we can still be thankful that they entered our life. We can still be thankful that we had the chance to be a part of something so truly wonderful.
So to my first best friend: I am immensely thankful for you and for our time together. I am thankful for the times we laughed until we cried. I am thankful for the subtle looks we exchanged that only the two of us could understand. I am thankful for how special you made me feel and how understood I felt when I was with you. I am so incredibly thankful that I could grow up with you by my side during those crucial coming of age years. I am thankful that you helped me to see life from a new perspective and that you always taught me to enjoy the little moments in life. I am thankful for you for listening to all of my thoughts and worries and fears and for trusting me with your own deepest anxieties and dreams. I am thankful for you for celebrating all of the parts of me that I was afraid to show to anyone else and for teaching me that it’s okay to be different, that people like you would always understand me.
And most of all, I am thankful for you for showing me how loved I could be. You taught me that I was special, and I truly hope with all of my heart that I taught you the same. You showed me how deeply I could care for someone, and I want to thank you for caring for me.
Though our friendship ended, I am forever grateful that we shared those precious chapters of our stories.
So, to my first best friend, the first person who broke my heart: I forgive you. I forgive you for leaving me. I forgive you for choosing to go on with life without me. I forgive you for never saying goodbye, for never telling me where you were going or why you were leaving.
Because our relationship meant the world to me, and I do believe and hope that it also meant the world to you. Our friendship was something delicately beautiful, something to be cherished, and this is what I will choose to remember moving forward. Because even though my heart broke when you left me, I know that our friendship was real.
You were my best friend.
You were my person.
And I truly wish you nothing but the best in life.