Bernadette, I don’t hardly know where to being this. How to sum up a life long friendship that has had its ups, downs and trials. One that has always, no matter what, brought us back to the same team, fighting for the same side.
We met young, in 5th grade at a slumber party, instant friends.What luck, I have no idea how you knew her, you didn’t go to our school but what luck for me. The rest as they say is history. But ours is a history that shouldnt be left as such a simple statement. We spent years walking back and forth to each others house where we’d just talk for hours about things that I couldn’t talk about with anyone else. Things happening at home, which come to find out, were happening in yours, too. About how hard it was to be the oldest, again, you were too. About school and boys and life.
I practically lived in your dorm room. I’m so grateful to Vanessa for being so cool with my being there so often. You were my escape, you’ve always been. You introduced me to Kim, the one whom I hope will join us in Arizona for our golden girls era. We met Rhys and Brooke. A little later we would share a house with Rhys. This was our hardest year as friends. We had to find out the hard way that “they” were right, you cannot live with your best friend, though I think we could now, as we are both much more mature than we were at 20. I wasnt sure we’d get past that but you invited me out to dinner and told me that you were moving out, I remember being sad. You handled it so well, telling me we’d be okay. We were, of course. Better than okay. Duh.
The night of my first date with Mike you were working at the radio station and I sunk away to come tell you how it was going. “I like him! I really like him!” Which you later quoted in a toast at our rehearsal dinner. You were my bridesmaid (honorary maid of honor, really) You’ve always been my cheering section. Buy that house! Move to NC! Marry Him! Laughing when I was expecting a boy, what I wanted yes, but how in the hell was a I going to raise a boy? You supported me when I need support, giving me the hard truth when no one else would. “Sex is not love.” I wouldn’t be the woman I am today without you. Without your love.
Now your sick and I hope I’ve been half of the friend you’ve been to me. I don’t really remember being so supportive but maybe that’s because it’s just what we do, we only really recal what we’ve done for each other rather than how we’ve helped each other, still, I hope.
When Kim called to tell me I broke but only for a second. I composed myself to listen to it all, to really hear her. But what I heard the loudest is you asked her to call me. You couldn’t tell me yourself. It took me a long time to get it, in fact, I don’t think I really did until I saw the pictures of your hair. And let me tell you, I’ve never been so pissed off at hair. Or so proud of you. Facing it head on. But it was when I saw that I finally moved from shock to pain. I’ve been there since.
I feel so guilty. I know this isn’t about me, not in the least. But here I am. Feeling awful, I have kids. Why. Why? Why do I get a family and you do not. Survivors guilt. A dish best served cold or you know, not at all.
I can’t get you out of my mind. Every pink ribbon I see, gift shop I enter, website I visit, I’m thinking of you, scouring for something that might be special that I can send you. Something meaningful but then I think maybe you don’t want a house full of “cancer mementos,” you know? The truth is I am paralyzed, I don’t have a clue what to do.
You got your port last week, the day after your birthday, the day before Thanksgiving; shit sandwich. My breath caught in my throat, my eyes filled with tears.I stared at the picture for too long. Your caption describing how it worked, about the part that stays in for life, incase the cancer comes back. About how the drugs go INTO YOUR HEART. About how you are fascinated by the medicine and the science behind your treatment. Sounding so strong and so ready. But I mostly stopped at your cocked crooked smile. I know that “smile” the one that’s says I can laugh or I can cry but dammit, Bernadette is not a crier! We both know I’m a crier and do enough for both of us. I want you to know it’s okay to cry, B. It’s okay to be mad. It’s okay.
You start chemo next week and again I don’t know what to say or do. I want to be with you. I want to read to you and bring you tea and paint your toes and make you soup. I just want to take care of you. I want to help. I want to fight for you. I want to cry. I want to cry a lot.
Mostly, I just want you to know how much I admire you. You are the strongest woman I know. You will fight, you will win. And I know you, this will change you for the better. You will have a new cape, one with a message. One that, when you’re ready, will help other women, because that’s just who you are.
I love you, B!