Since second grade, she was mine—all mine. We grew up down the street from each other. We played hopscotch, tag, and light-as-a-feather-stiff-as-a-board together. We attended each other’s weddings and held each other’s hair back while we puked. We laughed so hard that our tummies ached from pure exhaustion. We traveled together, grew together, and developed our boobs together. For 27 years we were best friends—BFFs, as we called it in grade school. Nothing would stand in the way of our friendship. Not even 2,700 miles.
Until something did.
My world was shattered, and she was no longer there to help me through it. There was no confrontation, no breakup, no slamming down the phone (figuratively, since no one actually does that these days). I never called her up and told her that I was mad. She never sent me a text telling me she was sorry. We never exchanged a final goodbye or engaged in a confrontation. There was nothing but silence and resentment. The relationship that I thought could never be broken snapped right in half. The reason why isn’t important, because I’m sure both of us would argue our points. It was just as easy for me to call her as it was for her to call me. I didn’t do it because of my pride. I imagine she didn’t do it because of her blame.
What matters is the how. How do you move on? How do you stop calling them? How do you function in a world where your best friend is basically just gone? Until I lost my best friend, I didn’t understand the phrase “you’re dead to me.” Now I get it. I know what it’s like to mourn someone who is still alive and well. To unfollow them on social media so you don’t get triggered and feel hurt by the life they’re so effortlessly living in your absence. To go about your usual routine and ALMOST call them. To resist the urge to send them a nasty text when you get pissed or to reach out to them in a time of desperation. I learned a lot from mourning my BFF. Her absence hurt me, but it also helped me grow.
I understand how to let go of someone I still love.
My first husband died five years ago, so death and mourning are nothing new to me. The loss of my husband was catastrophic, and my best friend was right by my side. But I will never let go of my late husband because I will always love him and grieve him. It wasn’t until I lost my friend that I experienced a profound loss that was from pure choice. My husband didn’t choose to leave me. I’d never been divorced, and he was mine since I was 14. Therefore, this gap left behind by my friend was wide. I’d never been broken up with before, and at 35, I felt rejected. I had to rip off the bandaid and unfollow her social media accounts. Her life made me sad because I was no longer a part of it anymore.
I realize that our relationship was important.
I cried in the shower. I cried while doing my makeup. I cried while listening to our favorite songs. I hurt for her because I missed her and still loved her, despite our breakup. We stopped communicating, but we didn’t stop caring. Well, to be honest, I’m still not quite sure if she cares, but I do. If her husband died tomorrow (the way mine did), I would book a ticket and fly to her—the way she did for me. Our relationship helped me through some really dark times, and despite our breakup, I’m still grateful for it. I still believe that she made me a better person, and I will cherish that part of our bond.
I can still cherish the good times.
I’m supposed to hate her, right? I mean, she did me wrong and we were BFFs. I can imagine that’s what a divorce is like. With her, it’s different. Since our breakup a year ago, I’ve realized that I still refer back to funny stories and cherish our “good times.” As much as I try to hate her, I just can’t. I continue to feel hurt and rejected by her. But hate her? I can’t. Our good times were good for a reason, and they are a part of who I am for all eternity.
I’m not perfect.
Our friend-split has helped me recognize just how imperfect I am as a friend. I’m a widow and I’m needy. I expect my friends to drop their lives and come to me when I’m missing my late husband. I’m more important than their jobs and kids, right? Newsflash, this isn’t reality. They have lives too, and I now recognize that my expectations might have been a little skewed. I accept responsibly in my wrongdoing—I expected too much. In today’s world, life is just too darn busy. My calendar is booked a month in advance. If I’ve learned anything from widowhood, it’s that our time is precious. Any moment might be your last, so it’s important to save our time for ourselves. Don’t do things you don’t want to do. But to that, I say, be honest about it.
I still love her, and I always will. I still miss her, cry for her, and think of her when I’m watching our favorite movie—Almost Famous. She’s in my DNA, and even though we don’t talk, we can still love each other from a distance.