I met my friend when we were in sixth grade. During middle school and high school, we were inseparable. She was the maid of honor in my wedding. I was the matron of honor in both of hers. She was with me through both of my pregnancies. I stood next to her at her father’s funeral. She struggled with drugs and alcohol. Her parents were alcoholics. She was always struggling.
We official became best friends on a class trip to the Baltimore Aquarium at the end of our sixth grade year. We sat on the bus together on the way up and the way home. It was meant to be.
My friend loved to eat Cheez Wiz right out of the can even though she was a vegan. She said that there could never be dairy in a can that didn’t need to be refrigerated. She could make me laugh until I peed myself. That’s how funny she was.
My friend stopped talking to me five years ago. We were meeting for lunch. She had just been released from rehab for the second time. I was starting to go through a very painful divorce. She showed up to lunch so trashed she could barely pick her head up off of her chest. When I left for a moment, I went to the bathroom to call her husband to ask him what was going on.
“Ron, it’s Kelly. I just got here with Rachel for lunch. She is visibly intoxicated. Did you know she is using again?”
“No,” he responded. “All I know is that she left this morning. Wait, I thought you were meeting her at 9 for breakfast.”
“Uh,” I stuttered. I had known about Rachel’s martial problems and I also knew that she had cheated on her husband multiple times, but I did not realize that our lunch date was a cover. “I…”
“Don’t bother lying for her. I know you are her friend, but she’s fucking cheating on me again. I am done. I stuck with her through rehab again. Tell her she can go fuck herself. I will be gone before she even gets home.”
“Wait, no, I just wanted to know what was going on. She can’t go home to an empty house. I can’t be in the middle of this,” I begged, but I knew it was falling on deaf ears, and I was also starting to realize that I was going to have to take full responsibility for calling. I also knew that I was not going to lie. I would face this head on. Our friendship was strong enough.
When I went back out to my friend, I told her what had just happened. Her response couldn’t have been more awful. In the middle of the restaurant she started screaming at me. She was furious and she openly blamed me for ruining her life. I was a traitor. I was horrible. I was not her friend. Against my pleas for her not to leave and drive home in the shape she was in, she continued screaming and got in her car and drove away. She called me minutes later and continued screaming at me that I had ruined her life. I knew it was the drugs and alcohol that were causing her to behave this way, but it didn’t make it any easier. I texted Ron to let him know she was heading home and asked him to let me know when she got there safely. I texted her about once a week for the next month, and she ignored them all. About a year later, she texted me to say that she was sorry and that she was no longer angry. She wanted to make amends. I basically told her to have a nice life. I was not interested in having her in my life anymore. I was angry. I was hurt.
Now today, six years later, I received a message from another friend that she has passed away. She sent me her obit. It doesn’t say much. It only included where she lived, her living relatives, and her age: 43.
I am not sure what I feel or even how to feel. How do I mourn a friend who I lost so many years ago? Am I just sad that there is now no way to make amends? Why do I keep breaking into tears?