Doing Life Without Your Best Friend

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

5. & 6.

There have been a few people in my life that I've really, truly connected to. If you are lucky enough to have one of those people you know what I mean. Sure most people have friends, maybe even best friends. But there are just certain people you click with, you trust and you love to the depths of your soul.
I met that person in sixth grade. I was new to a school and thrown to the wolves of big, bad middle school. To help me make friends before school started my mom forced me into basketball camp. I hated basketball and had no desire to play it ever (I was a swimmer. Hand-eye coordination/land sports were not my thing).
One light came from that terrible camp: there I met Kelsey. She was a friend to me and was my partner for all the drills, even though I sucked to an extreme. We were pretty much inseparable from there on out. I survived middle school with her and became close to her family. She was the fourth of five children, with three older brothers who counseled the two of us through our transition to high school.
I suffer from a friend issue. I tend to get really close to someone for a long time, then get annoyed with them and push them away. This goes for both guys and girl friends. It ebbs and flows, but I tend to stay friends with those people. Kelsey dealt with me through many of those times and she stuck with me.
From the night of the OSU championship game
In early 2008, we were on the upswing of my moody friendship and she spent a lot of time at my house during Christmas/New Year's break. We spent New Year's Eve together and the Ohio State Championship game. Maybe it was too much time or maybe it was my friendship disorder, but I was tired of her at that point. A few weeks later she asked me to spend the night for a weekend and I lied and said I was staying with another friend. 
Boy do I regret that. And I probably will for the rest of my life.
She died January 22, 2008. She texted me that morning and said she wouldn't be at school. This wasn't unusual. She had been sick for a few months with no solution from the doctors. All the teachers were told to announce her death at the end of the school day, at the same time so no one in the school knew before anyone else. I don't remember what was said, but I remember dropping my instrument in band and someone taking me to the hallway before I lost it.
I don't remember much from the next few weeks. I remember buying a purple blouse for the funeral (her favorite color), reading a poem after her eulogy and staring at her sparkly pink casket (a second favorite color) at the cemetery.
The guilt was insurmountable. The pressure of what I'd done, disregarding my friend, was killing me. I struggled and struggled and couldn't tell anyone.
There's a funny thing that happens when someone dies. "Friends" come out of the woodwork. I remember being so frustrated by all the people claiming to have known her so well. I was the one she spent her weekends with. It was my house she had stayed at most of the summer and then we she went home I'd go with her. I had known about all the doctors appointments and negative tests. It was me that should have been there for her. Me.

Combine that frustration with my guilt and I was a wreck, a complete, bonafied disaster. My parents forced me to go to school, but I struggled. My grades slipped, other friendships fell to the wayside, I broke up with my boyfriend of the time, everything was a mess.
Her funeral was almost a week later, with the autopsy holding things up. We wouldn't find out til almost a month later that it was Addison's Disease. Addison's is an autoimmune disorder that affects about 1 in 1,000,000. Of course that one was my best friend. Worst part of finding out? Finding out Addison's is treatable if diagnosed. But for Kelsey it was too late.
Almost a year later I met Cameron. I always say lightning struck twice in this regard, because I felt like I could breathe again with him. He was another one of those people I felt like knew the real, true me. The connection was instant and scary, because it reminded me of Kelsey and I wasn't ready to lose another people that meant so much to me. 
I have a saying I use to define my relationship with Cameron. I like to say we "do life" together. There's the exciting parts of life, like marrying and honeymooning. There's also the mundane like cleaning the house and trying to figure out when the damn cable bill is due. The good, bad, exciting and boring, we get to do it all together and I consider that a privilege.
When wedding planning became a part of my life, I needed Kelsey more than ever. As much as Cameron knew me like she had, he is a male and bless his heart never could quite grasp the importance of wedding colors.My mom and sisters tried their best, but we just have different styles and that's fine. I just need her because she knew me and would have known exactly how to help. 
The same was true for dress shopping. I wasn't excited about it anyway (I'm a little bigger than the sample size, if ya know what I mean), but knowing I'd have my family's styles to contend with was even more of a deterrent. I managed, but I missed her there.
The closest to a formal wedding picture I have with her- a picture from homecoming in the fall of 2007
Things got rough as the wedding grew closer. Our wedding date was a few weeks after the anniversary of her passing, and ten days after what would have been her 22nd birthday. People were frustrating me, wedding planning was just getting more tedious and I wasn't enjoying myself in the least. I don't know that anyone noticed (other than my family, who knew what was going on), but I was on the verge of a breakdown.
I barely made it to February 15 and managed not to cry when I saw my bouquet. I wanted to honor Kelsey, as well as the grandfather I'd never been able to meet. Kelsey's little sister was a bridesmaid of mine and it sort of felt like a part of her was there in the physical world with me.
Why am I all of the sudden rehashing these bad moments in my life? I'm in the process of evaluating everything. I'm trying to establish myself as a wife, daughter, friend and professional. And it's hard to do that when you're missing a piece of yourself that died many years ago and has missed so much.
Doing life without someone that feels like a physical part of you is not an easy feat. It's actually really, really hard. Like, harder than I could put into words. There are all sorts of adjectives to dress up the word "difficult" but that's the only real, straight-forward way to put it. It's just not easy. Big life events like getting married without your best friend standing at the altar with you, little life events like texting her when you need someone to talk to whom you just know will understand. Anything and everything in between.
It's just hard.


  1. hugs my friend.
    that is really all i can say after reading this.
    doing life without those we love is always challenging, and we remember it more and more as we hit certain milestones that they can't share with us.

    1. Milestones are definitely hard. It's like all the "firsts" in that first year, but more spread out. Definitely reopens the wound.


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