I’m saying goodbye to a friend today. A friend I haven’t known, really known, in years.
In high school though, she was my best friend. We did everything together. We drove around in her beat-up white Volvo, with dozens of stickers covering the back windows, blasting Lagwagon and the Descendents. We went to Goodwill and Arc to buy pants that were five sizes too big. We drank our first Jack Daniels, and we got sick and then we did it again. We pined over loser boys that treated us like shit. We got our first jobs at Wild Oats, bagging groceries. She stuck with it, and became a cashier. I moved on to the candy store in the mall. We grew up together. We were silly girls, and then we were women. Maybe still a little silly, but strong, and determined, with a bond that was strengthened by the drama that accompanies every teenage high school friendship.
Like many high school friends, Jessie and I grew apart, not all at once, but slowly. We had a graduation party at her house. I remember thinking how responsible she was. We were 18. So young. I felt ancient. It was just another high school party, but at the time it felt like the only thing. We were growing up. She was always so happy. Together, we felt alive.
I moved to Boulder for school, and she stayed in Denver. I came down to visit her, for a Halloween party. To go see Rage Against The Machine. To drive around in her her beat-up Volvo and talk about the boys we were in love with.
But the space between us grew. I made friends in Boulder. She had a boyfriend, and new friends in Denver that I didn’t know as well. We never fought. We had a connection that wouldn’t be broken, no matter the space. But still it grew, and it grew, and suddenly we didn’t know each other very well anymore. Not the way we had.
Jessie and I have been in and out of touch for the past 15 years. Over those years we’ve had lunches. Had a night out here and there. Talked about our kids. Eaten bad burritos. And each time we saw each other, that space just disappeared. Our bond remained true. Even if it had been a year, or two or three, since the last time I saw her, she was the same funny, kind, strong woman that I grew up with. The years melted away, and together we laughed.
To me, that is the mark of a true friendship. Our lives take over, we’re busy and don’t have time for each other anymore, not the way we used to. But while the distance may be far, and the space may seem too large, when we come together, it’s as if nothing has changed. The bond is true, the connection strong.
Cancer has taken Jessie now. And I know the years will pass, and I won’t see my friend again. The space will grow. But she’ll always be with me. A true friend for life, and beyond. I will forever cherish the years we had together. I love you Jessie.