Dear Debbie

Submitted into Contest #202 in response to: Write a story about lifelong best friends.... view prompt

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Contemporary Inspirational Coming of Age

Dear Debbie,

How can it be that I face a world without you? How can I go on without your warm advice, your unconditional love, without you? How can I wake up every day knowing you are no longer here to laugh at my jokes, soothe my fears, champion my successes, and love me like only you could do?

I always found it odd that I met my best friend after high school.  So many others took their friends from school with them into life, but not me. I struck out on my own in a grown up world after graduation and it was in my first full time job that I met my best friend… you! We have laughed over the years that we each could say “my best friend, Deb” and mean it. Sharing names is just the tip of our friend iceberg.

Remember our days in the gift wrap department, going downstairs for our 9:00am break everyday, getting to know each other? Months later we would be eating watermelon and playing Canasta, our pregnant bellies growing, as did our dreams for our future and the future of the babies we carried.  We helped each other through La Maz classes, nursery construction and then the big finale…birth! You led the way bringing your son into the world while my daughter followed three weeks later. We were such wonderful young mothers together.

Our second and third babies followed over the years as we miraculously conceived at similar times and had the blessing of a best friend to share the experiences.  I loved our days nursing our babies side by side on the couch as we laughed and chatted. We dreamed your son would marry my daughter  as we visualized our friendship memorialized by a true family connection! 

Days and years passed with many trips to the beach with the kids, coolers packed, Billy Joel on the radio, greasing ourselves first with baby oil, and later real sunscreen when science caught up with us. All the dinners we shared out on the town, when we could bribe the guys to watch their own kids! - during which we complained about husbands, jobs, kids, being fat, broke, unhappy or, alternatively, sharing the successes, the fun, the joys of life and being with someone who “gets” us. 

Remember the time we had a slumber party at my house? Having made arrangements for both kids and husbands, we were so excited to live like single women! We intended to eat out, drink a few cocktails, and enjoy a long, entertaining evening!  What we did was drink too much and fall asleep on the living room floor before we could even get the Scrabble game set up. Our one night of perfect freedom, and we slept it away on the floor! God, how we laughed at ourselves the next morning!

We are the generation of women who, en masse, bridged the gap from Homemaker to Career Woman. We found our way through a changing world and negotiated our place in it - housewife or career woman - according to what was going on in our lives. We worked to supplement our husband’s salaries, we fluffed the nest of our homes when staying home was possible, and we endured the beginning years of “latch key” kids, Women’s Lib, and  suffered all the guilt that came with leaving young children in someone else’s care, asking for help with home tasks that now needed to be done at day’s end or on weekends, and not feeling totally comfortable in either role anymore. But, we did it! 

When your boys developed drug issues, and my son had mental health issues, we paved new ground together - in therapy with our families! We comforted each other when “the worst” would happen to child, home or husband and we found our strength in our belief in each other.  So many tears. And, so much laughter, fun and love.

When your heart issues began, it seemed appropriate. The teenage years for your boys weren’t kind to your family and your heart ‘broke’ over the choices they made and the consequences. Your heart, that had dedicated itself to the art of family, creation of beautiful, soulful living spaces, and loving, forgiving energy to sons who shunned guidance, became exhausted. Through those years, you told me you were so tired you wanted to lay down, go to sleep and never wake up.  You praised my ability to always find the positive, to be a ray of sunshine in a dark day, but I couldn’t heal your heart. I could only love you and pray. And I did.

When your hubby called to tell me to come see you, as there wasn’t much time, I wept. We had been distant for a couple of years, only speaking and meeting occasionally and the loss of the intimacy we had enjoyed affected us both. What could I say to my best friend lying in the hospital bed waiting to die? How could I face life without you? You didn’t give me a choice.

While I haven’t had another best friend like you, I love and am loved. While no one else knows my soul like you did, loves me unconditionally like you did, sees the perfection in me that only you and God know, I have found joy in the life that followed your leaving. I’m glad you are with your middle son, who preceded you in death; I’m glad you are free and happy in Heaven, but I miss you. 

I’m glad I have mementos and memories and most of all, I’m glad I know you never left. Your spirit shows up constantly. The Audi MDX in front of me. The letter you penned in 1990 that hangs on my bedroom wall. I feel you, I sense you, no longer flesh yet present, never forgotten.

You, my friend, Debbie, were the wind beneath my wings. You offered, “Do whatever you must to live with yourself”  - advice that has served me throughout my life as I consider what is mine to do. You were there when I was a girl, when I became a woman, mother, grandmother and you led the way out, as well. I miss you. I talk to you all the time and feel your presence. Best friends are a gift, and thankfully, the gift that keeps on giving - even after death! 

Thank you for your presence in my life. From 18 year old me, to 69 year old me, you were my constant. You have been my guiding light as I still hear your votes of confidence, your excellent, heartfelt advice and feel your loving energy. Gone but not forgotten. Until we meet again!

My love always,

Debbie

June 12, 2023 22:01

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1 comment

Donna Chisum
16:53 Jun 18, 2023

Isn't it funny having a friend with the same name? Your life with your friend sounds similar to mine, but thankfully my friend is still here. I'm sorry for your loss.

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