Late yesterday afternoon, I was driving home from work and found myself sitting at a stoplight. I looked to my right and saw the hospital where my best friend died in June. In the two minutes I sat there waiting on the light to change, I remembered every moment of the two days we spent there.
I still have texts from her on my phone ... I've read them a hundred times. In the last one, I told her I was worried about her ... that she'd been feeling sick for too long. She told me that she would be fine ... not to worry about her.
I miss her so much. Sometimes that grief gets lost ... it's buried deep under the weight of everyday life. It's buried under the stress of the new job ... under tedious chores like paying bills or doing laundry or grocery shopping ... under happy moments with Stoney or the girls or my mom ... under the ever-present anger I feel towards her husband.
But sometimes it comes back ... so strong it's like a physical blow. In those moments, it doesn't seem real. How could she be gone? How??
I see friends on Facebook who post things like, "Had lunch with my bestie!" or "Nothing like a girl's day out!" and I can I feel the hole where she used to be.
One time, in our early 20's, we went to see a band playing at this hole-in-the-wall place out in the country. A guy we knew from high school ... a guy she'd always had a crush on ... would be singing and she wanted so badly to see them play. She put it up with so much of my nonsense ... going on wild goose chases with me ... that I owed her this. So in a rainstorm, we drove out there. I pulled into the grassy field they used for a parking lot and we walked up to the dilapidated, old mansion.
When we came out a couple hours later, it was still raining ... and my Rabbit was stuck in the mud. We tried rocking it ... she tried pushing it. She couldn't drive stick so we were in a bind. We were both covered in mud from head to toe in a matter of minutes. And who should come walking along? The singer ... the guy from high school that she had crushed on for so many years.
He ran and got the guys from the band ... and they all pushed the Rabbit out ... like it was the easiest thing they'd ever done. I thanked them ... shook his hand and said I owed him a beer. He hugged K ... their families knew each other and he'd always treated her like a little sister ... and he hugged her in a bear hug that must've hurt her ribs.
She glowed on the way home ... practically glowed.
Fast forward twenty years. We saw him sing again a couple months after my separation. Her husband drove us to this small bar to see him sing ... and on a break he sat at our table. I bought him a beer ... the one I owed him from all those years ago. I brought up that rainy night ... about his friends and K pushing the Rabbit out of the mud ... and we all laughed.
He came to her funeral. He cried ... and I was tempted to tell him, "You know, she always loved you ..." but I didn't have the heart to add more hurt to someone who was already in pain.
It's almost spring. As soon as the weather's warmer, I'll take her flowers and sit awhile on that marble bench ... thinking about all those goose chases and all the times we laughed. I miss you, K ... I hope you're still with me.
If only people would just let you play
They say you're both being fools
You're breaking all the rules
They can't understand
The magic of your wonderland
Fox and the Hound - Best of Friends