Best friends forever

Disclosure: This is not a typical “time is money mommy” post. It’s a tribute to my best friend and the man that changed her life forever.

“C” and I met in middle school, when she moved to Virginia from Connecticut. We were inseparable, working at the pool snack bar, ordering pizza with the change her dad left in his bedroom and walking to the nearby shopping center for entertainment. Middle school girls are silly, and we were no different.

As we moved into high school, C and I made new friends, but remained close. I played sports, she hated them. She dyed her hair purple and wore Doc Martens, while I kept my natural blonde and wore purple Vans (they were nice and girly). On the surface, we seemed like opposites in many ways, but we had a special bond.

C started dating “S” in high school, and she got pregnant our senior year. I was off to college a few weeks prior to her due date. She was preparing for life as a mom, while I was drinking beer at frat parties. Again, our lives seemed headed in opposite directions, but the bond was too strong to break.

A few weeks after college started, I returned to Virginia as quickly as I could when her baby girl was born. I was flying stand by thanks to my mom’s airline employment, and it’s strange how clearly remember my outfit, nearly 17 years later. The Delta ticket agent wouldn’t let me on the plane because I wasn’t wearing pantyhose. I went to the airport gift shop to buy some, since they were the last thing I would have packed for college in 95-degree heat and 99 percent humidity.

This was before cell phones, so I called C from the Atlanta airport, from the only open phone I could find, in the smoker’s lounge. She was the one who just had a baby, yet I was the one who was crying. I wanted to be there with her, not in plume of smoke in a roomful of strangers. I finally made it and remember seeing her and the baby for the first time. I was so proud of her. She was doing something at 18 that I didn’t do for another 11 years, and she already seemed like she knew what she was doing. Breastfeeding and diaper changes were the furthest thing from my mind, but it was what she was meant to do, and S helped her be the person she was meant to be.

C is a wonderful mom. She’s an old pro at this point. I know she faced struggles along the way, but she is a successful business owner and most importantly, there for her kids. She’s always been my kindred spirit, but in recent months as I’ve considered starting a business, I’ve looked up to her more and more.

When I heard the news today about S passing away, I immediately felt sick. I hadn’t seen S in years, and don’t see C as often as I’d like. The memories of him at their kids’ birthday parties and all those years of she and I doing everything together are still so clear. Years pass, but true friendships don’t change.

I am all too familiar with unexpected loss. I’ve walked in those shoes, though it was my own father, not the father of my children. The memories came flooding back. It doesn’t seem real. You don’t want it to be real. People call and you are thankful for them reaching out, but you just can’t bear to talk.

Like C, in my time of loss, I had kids to take care of, and I think that was the only thing that kept me sane. I’m so glad she has a wonderful family and friends to support her, but this is one of the times that I hate living so far away. I just want to squeeze her and buy her a pizza (all in change) and a Choco Taco from the pool snack bar.

Instead, I’m writing this and hoping that in some small way, it helps. I love her and those kids to pieces. Time and distance may have physically separated us, but we’ll be best friends forever.

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