In August, I lost a very close childhood friend. And even though I believed writing about her would be impossible, I have finally mustered up the strength to able to explain what grief feels like.
The day I received the news, I was walking around the neighborhood with my mom— as we have habitually been doing this year. My mom was eager to show me a new path she discovered the day before. I turned off my phone and disconnected from any outside communication. And after having explored a short but pleasant trail, we emerged from the densely forested area and I pulled out my phone. A long lost friend had texted me urgently, called, and left a voicemail that I quickly deleted after listening to it. This was bad. I felt it in my gut and instantly knew who it was about.
I called her back and she, as composed as she could ever possibly have been, broke the news. “Terrible news… this morning…She’s gone.”
We spoke for a few minutes, and although I was in complete shock I immediately knew I had to tell another friend. It’s really hard to deliver this news, it’s not something you ever want to do. From that conversation, I will always remember the sudden realization my friend made, that although obvious for an outsider, was novel to us, “that means we will never see her again.”
In these months I have felt extreme sadness, despair… and love. I have received enormous amounts of support from those who knew her closely to people who have never heard her name. And if it weren’t for those around me that have supported me in different ways, I probably would not have been able to begin understanding her death. Death isn’t something that clicks in your mind. It’s a concept that has levels and requires processing over time. Yes, I “know” she is gone, but it is still so unbelievable that I can never again send her a quick text or laugh at memories that later become inside jokes. Everything that happened between us, has ended, similar to a book. I can review the different chapters of our lives and share them with others, but there will always be a final page. Of course, I wish I had seen her at least one last time, just to have been able to… I don’t know, say goodbye? And physically I feel, exhausted. Because apart from losing her, everyone in the world is dealing with this suffocating virus that has dominated all of our lives.
Now after four months, I realize this emptiness I carry can never be filled in, I can only make room for it and simply accept. There hasn’t been a night where I don’t think about her— right before I close my eyes, as luck would have it. And even though I am so spooked by the mere thought of ghosts existing, I have spent countless nights waiting for her to visit me. Only to tell her that I miss her and love her dearly.
I’m crying now, I’ll resume tomorrow.
* * *
Some days I cry, most days I carry on.
Last night I dreamt of her, we were unknowingly trapped in a huge apartment complex that had all sorts of amenities. After exploring for a while, we sat on a balcony facing the busy street and another large building. We were chatting and I casually said, “I have to go buy x,” to which she immediately volunteered to accompany me. I shot a glance at another friend sitting with us and felt a deep pang in my chest. There was a heavy eternal silence that followed until Jacque realized why she couldn’t leave. She sighed and said, “oh… I can’t leave, right? I’m dead.” Those words broke the spell and she disappeared, right before our eyes. Needless to say, I awoke from the chest pain from what I can only attribute to just another symptom of deep sadness. I have had so many sleepless nights.
Sometimes I’ll smell something that sparks a memory, which I share with anyone that’s around me while smiling sadly as I reminisce. I try to hold on to our memories and our countless adventures, but after more than 15 years of friendship, many have slipped away.
It never crosses your mind that someone will leave so suddenly, and I truly thought we would grow old together, maybe physically distanced but always close to heart. I guess destiny had other plans.
I tell myself I have no regrets, I just only wish she was truly aware of how much she was loved.