This week the world lost someone incredible.
Her name was Michelle and growing up, she was my best friend.
I wrote about her before, here, but the anger of that post has been replaced with a deep sadness. She passed away Thursday after a long battle with cancer, and there are no words to express my sympathy for her family.
So I thought I would share some happy memories. I thought I would tell you more about our friendship.
We met in kindergarten. She was always smiling, except for the time that little jerk cut her long hair with play scissors (how he managed, I will never, ever know). We weren’t super close as small children, but I remember watching Pee Wee’s Big Adventure at one of her birthday parties. Over time, we got to know each other better, but interestingly it was only after she moved to another school district that we grew really close.
Suddenly we were spending every single weekend at each other’s houses. We crimped our hair together (remember, it was the 80s). We shared an 8th birthday cake (pink, with cinnamon hearts). She got a kitten named Tigger; I got jealous. She had a little brother, Matt, the bane of our girlhood, always coming uninvited into her room and messing with all our things until we screamed at him and slammed the door. Our parents bought us matching chairs that turned into beds, so we would always, always have somewhere to sleepover.
She developed an interest in figure skating. I begged for white skates and made a laughable attempt to mimic her. She liked Michael Jackson; I learned all the words. I’m forever grateful that YouTube didn’t exist back then, because somewhere there exists a VHS tape of the two of us wearing our clothes backwards and pretending to be Kriss Kross.
My mom bought us a set of “Best Friends” pendants, the kind that start out whole and break apart (I got “ST ENDS”). We did absolutely everything together on weekends, and on school nights we spent hours on the phone telling each other every single minute detail of our days. We even shared an uncommonly-spelled middle name.
These things tell you about the surface of our friendship, but of course it was more than that. It was having someone who would understand you no matter what, someone who always took your side and made you smile again. It was having a second family. We existed in completely different circles (different neighbourhoods, different schools, different friends) but when we hung out everything just worked.
We got older. We grew apart. Slowly we saw each other less and less. Then, until a few years ago, we lost contact entirely. I can’t tell you how much it saddens me that we lost each other over those years. And how much it saddens me to have lost her again, just when we were starting to know each other as adults.
I’m attending a Celebration of Life service for her tomorrow. It’s going to be hard. But I’m proud to attend, happy to honour her in memory. She will never be forgotten.
You’ll be missed, pretty lady.
I’ve decided not to post a photo of her, out of respect for her privacy and that of her family. But picture her like this: golden brown hair, smiling blue eyes, soft voice and full laugh. The kind of person you’d meet and feel instantly comfortable with. The kind of person I wish you’d met.