I am aware that some readers of this post, including me, are now in the stage of life where we begin to lose friends and family members. I’ve said goodbye to several people in the past few years who were very dear to me.
But I was not at all prepared lose my best friend. I’m not sure why, but it seemed that the two of us would just go on living and we would always be there for each other. We both received our Covid-19 Vaccines in March and congratulated each other and started planning our next visit.
Louise (not her real name) and I met in Junior High School when we were both 12 years old and became instant best friends.
There were never two girls with such different personalities and physical characteristics who became inseparable. I was tall and thin with frizzy red hair and freckles, and I rarely stopped talking, which got me into a lot of trouble in school. She was short and curvy with big boobs, and beautiful blond hair, and was painfully shy, rarely talking or speaking out at school or in social groups.
BUT, she was not shy with me! We never stopped talking to each other about anything and everything and shared secrets with each other that we never told anyone else.
During our Junior High and High School Years we had many adventures. Actually , we were just 2 goofy girls who liked to have fun! We joined a bowling team in 8th grade and we were both so bad at bowling that the other team members were happy when we didn’t show up for our games!
We sucked at most other sports too, which didn’t bother us, but we excelled at Roller Skating. Most Saturday mornings we would show up at the big Roller Rink in town. It was usually packed with kids skating fast and recklessly to loud music, and we joined right in and became fearless skaters along with everybody else. Shoe skates were required and we were proud to have our very own. We would hold hands and skate round and round the rink for 2 hours till we were exhausted and dizzy.
Sometimes we rode the bus downtown on a Saturday and ate big hamburgers and french fries at our favorite diner. After lunch we walked to the movie theater for the afternoon show. Then we rode the bus back home. We grew up in a small southern town in the days when it was safe to run around on our own.
And we did a lot of running around! We lived near the beach so we were there swimming and sunning constantly during the summer, and I was always sunburned. (Remember I had red hair and freckles). It was not a pretty sight!
Then there were many Friday or Saturday night sleepovers at her house or mine, watching TV and eating pizzas, and just enjoying our silly chatter.
And when we discovered the allure of adolescent boys we spent hours discussing who we had a crush on and who might have a crush on one of us! Of course she got a boyfriend first! But I wasn’t too far behind!
But inevitably, those magic days of childhood and adolescence came to a close. We grew up, graduated from High School and set off on different paths. We went to different Universities but vowed to stay in touch. The day we parted I felt like I had lost a part of myself
She found her future husband pretty quickly while in College and was married by 19. Fortunately, I was able to be there at the hospital on the August day that her daughter was born. I was mesmerized to see this tiny baby that she had just given birth to. It was several years later that I married and gave birth to my first child.
During the subsequent years while we both were busy being wives and mothers, pursuing our demanding careers, and going through our own ups and downs, we did not stay in close contact on a regular basis. I missed her, but one day she called to tell me that she was getting a divorce and we immediately reconnected and were never out of touch again.
We lived 900 miles and several states apart but for the next 30 something years we visited back and forth at least once or twice a year. We both saw our children grow up and mature and get married. We both had the joy of welcoming our grandchildren, who themselves are almost grown up now.
During the past few years we’ve spent a great deal of time on the phone instead of visiting, mainly due to external situations in our lives, and to the Covid-19 pandemic of the past year.
Louise called me one afternoon in late April. I answered with my usual flippant greeting! Then my mouth fell open. . . . Brain cancer. Just diagnosed. No treatment options available. Very aggressive tumor. . . .Prognosis: Terminal. “Say What? Are you kidding me? You must be kidding! How could this happen? You’re fine. You’ll be fine. You can’t die. We’re too young for one of us to die!” Those were the words that came pouring out of my mouth, but she wasn’t kidding.
I flew out to be with her 2 weeks later. The cancer took her down quickly, and she was already bedridden when I arrived. I helped to care for her in her last weeks and we were able to spend some time talking and reminiscing about our life long friendship. She passed away just 5 weeks after her diagnosis, on May 27, 2021
I feel her loss acutely, and it will be many months before I can think of her without feeling an ache in my soul. Her death has left a huge hole in my heart.
My message to all of those who have been kind enough to read this narrative is simple. Please don’t take your close friends and family for granted. Tell them you love and appreciate them each day, because you never know when they will be taken from you. We have all heard this message before, but my story is a good reminder of the fragility of life and the need to let those close to you know just how much they mean to you before it is too late.
Rest in Peace my Beloved friend!