A few months ago, I learned that a friend from high school, D, lost her battle with cancer. It had been over twenty years since I last saw D, but I cried for her and the terrible loss for her family. It seems as if just yesterday we were sneaking out of my mom’s basement at my annual slumber party. We had our entire lives ahead of us, and time running out on us was simply inconceivable.
My life has always been full of exploits with my girl friends and none more so than D, my best friend in high school.
Closing my eyes, I remember how the cold, hard cement sidewalk was unforgiving as we tried our best to get comfortable for a few moments of sleep. Everyone around us had lawn chairs, blankets, food and drink.
Our supplies consisted of a stolen pack of Cambridge cigarettes that was swiped from my home. Apparently, nobody felt the need to tell us the proper etiquette for last-minute camping out at Sears for New Kids On The Block concert tickets. The cigarettes provided heat as we would light one and hold our hands over it – maybe take a puff to heat our lungs too.
That was how we rolled back then, ready for any adventure that came our way. Never mind that we didn’t have enough money for the tickets; nobody bothered to tell us about sales tax either.
Our friendship started in 1988, as we suffered through 9th grade Science class together with the appropriately named teacher, Mr Dull. Even though we marched side by side in our maroon and white Pantherette uniforms in 8th grade, our friendship didn’t take off right away.
Nevertheless, once we were forced to sit through a terribly boring class together – Saturday school to make up for a rare snow day in Arkansas – we found how much our personalities matched. While it would take another year for us to become inseparable, she would become THAT teenage confidant to me; the one that I could be completely myself with and she loved me in spite of it.
She would be the one who willing said yes to whatever came our way.
We spent the tenth and eleventh grades of high school like small time mobsters. Together, we schemed and plotted our way through boys, parties, bottles of Strawberry Hill, poorly rolled joints and NWA cassette tapes. It was her idea to write two sets of plans for everything we did: one for our parents and one for what we actually set out to do. I might have been the smarter criminal but she was meticulous in the note keeping.
Imagine a white girl version of the DC Comic Wonder Twins: one had the power to lie, the other had the power to cover it up. We met every venture as a challenge that we had to pursue.
Despite being a formidable duo in our youth, we were naive to the point of thinking that nothing in our life would change. We would both go to college after high school, get married, have babies and still see each other all of the time.
Any person who has ever experienced a close teenage friendship knows where this story goes; every woman out there has the friend that she let fall by the wayside.
As I think back on it, there was no way for our paths to do anything other than go separate ways. She settled down, becoming perfectly accustomed to her role as wife and mother. I took my love for discovery and exploited it, settling down as a mother in the last few years.
However, when we reconnected two years ago, it was if we were still 16 years old and plotting our next escapade. Although, in reality all of our enjoyment is now centered around our families. Recently, we confided in each other that somewhere along the way, we lost ourselves. It makes me wonder if that is something that all women with children go through as their children grow up and need them less.
It’s easy to make motherhood our sole identity and feel lost when our children leave us behind. The safety net of taking care of our family is ripped away and we have to swim in a pool that we built for others.
The shock of D’s death sharply reminded me that we don’t have forever to start anew.
Where did those spirited, idealistic (and sometimes, dangerous!) young girls go?
When did we lose the simplistic courage of fearless exploration and the ability to take risks for ourselves?
Do you have a friend who you’ve parted ways with, but can always pick up where you left off at any point in life? Have you experienced the loss of a dear friend?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Margie Bryant of Arkansas, USA. She can be found on Twitter @TheHunnyB.
Photo credit to welivefast. This photo has a creative commons attribution license.
I’m sorry to hear about your friend, the big C is cruel, Margie.
I didn’t find a true best friend until I was well into my 30s. Then she and her husband decided to move to the bottom of the South Island – it might as well have been the South Pole. I cried when she told me they were going. Another great and longer friendship began when I was at Teachers’ College…she is now working in International Schools around Asia. Yet, in both cases we always pick up where we left off. True friendships are magical.
Yes to both your questions Margie. One of my childhood friends died of cancer and left behind a young son. She was the athletic one in our circle of friends and it was a huge shock.
As for special girlfriends, I have one for each stage of my life (not sure how this happened, but I moved around a fair bit) My best friend when I was at school, my best friend when I started working, the one when I got married and the one I have now. Believe it or not all five of us have husbands with the same name. I’ve lost touch with the highschool one but the others, no matter how long it’s been we fall straight back into the same comfy relationship.
I loved what you wrote because it takes me back to my own teenage years and then reminds me why I’m suffering with my own teenagers – it’s a right of passage to adulthood
I believe what Karyn says – true friendships are magical
This reminds me so much of my relationship with one of my childhood friends. We’ve gone down two completely different roads in life, but we are always excited when we get back in touch. She had her first child at 18, and I had mine at 31. We had the best times together growing up. She hated playing with Barbies, so I used to send her daughter a Barbie doll every year, just to piss her off. I haven’t heard from her in a while, and your article made me want to check in with her. It’s time!
I haven’t lost a girlfriend to cancer. So sorry for you loss. This was a really moving article, Margie.
Funny thing is that those two questions at the end weren’t mine. I meant this blog as a way of saying how we sometimes lose ourselves in motherhood. But thanks y’all for liking it anyway!
My life has been full of great girl friends and I know I am very lucky to have them.
Plus, as a mom of a teenager now, this retrospect was fun for me. When did I get old????
My best friend has been my best friend since we were both ten. We’re not always in regular contact, but when we are, we can pretty much pick up where we left off. We have been through all kinds of stuff together, and our friendship has even survived a big falling-out that lasted for a couple of years. If I lost her, I would be – well, lost.
I am really sorry for your loss. This was a thought-provoking post, one that makes me sit back and be truly grateful for the wonderful people in my life (including you, my friend).
Your article was very moving and brought me to tears. You brought me back to my youth, fun nights with my friends and flooded me with memories.
The people we love do live on in our memories. It would be nice to share some of your stories with her family. You knew her better than anyone did at that time in her life.
Thinking of you!
Margie – sorry for the loss of your dear friend. I have two like that from my childhood and even though we live on opposite coasts, we always have a way of picking up where we left off. Great post!