“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” ― Jane Austen,
I was ten the first time a friend died. He was a nice boy who had a crush on me. We walked home from school together.
I knew he liked me and so I’d make excuses and walk with other people instead. Because when you’re a kid you’re dumb like that.
Then on a Sunday, he died in a horrible accident on his grandparent’s farm, and I knew I’d miss those walks. So I wrote a poem. Partially, out of guilt. But also, because he was a good friend, even when I wasn’t.
His mother asked me to read the poem at his funeral. So I did. As I read, his two-year-old brother leaned over his open casket and begged him to wake up.
I kept reading.
I’m older now and a just little wiser. Tonight I wrote this for (and about) a friend. I thought she should know. She asked if she could share it and so I thought I would too.
You to me.
We sat across from each other five years ago at a business lunch. She was quiet, soft, observant. We didn’t really talk. At least not to each other. It was a French place and I remember we ordered the same thing. Months later she came to an event I held. And lots of them after that. Soon we would start meeting beforehand. I wrote a book. She came to my first reading and brought her boyfriend. They sat in the front row. She broke up with the boyfriend. I watched her grieve in coffee shops around town. She’d date others. “He rides an edge in me,” she told me once. “I know the feeling,” I said, and that’s when I was sure, her soul knew my soul. I put those words in a book. He rides an edge in me. Or at least I always meant to.
She told me of her brother’s death and I told her about mine. She is the kind of friend who calls me on my birthday when hardly anyone picks up the phone anymore. Not to speak anyway. “Maybe that’s who you were then—” she told me once. “But not who you are now.”
We went for walks around Town Lake where she said, “That person isn’t your friend Britney, that person is trying to seduce you.” Turned out, she was right.
Then I got busy—too busy—and she left me one of the most beautiful voicemails I’ve ever received. I just knew we’d be friends forever. Then she got cancer. And I remembered. Forever always has an expiration date. So I told her all the things, all the ways she’s impacted my life, but not most of this.
We’re meeting for coffee later this week. But it’s different. She accepted hospice care yesterday and the venue has changed. “Bring me a latte,” she said. “The door will be open, let yourself in.”
So I will, and it will be like it always is… it will be some of the best motherfucking coffee I’ve ever had. It will taste like friendship, no bullshit on the side.