Last night I had a very hard time going to sleep. It was after midnight, which reminded me that it was already the 18th of June. This should be a happy day for me, but it no longer is.
Today is the birthday of my best friend growing up. She is two years older than I. I think we spent more time together in the 5 years we lived next door than we did sleeping, at least in the summer months. We rode our bicycles to the swimming pool nearly every day, stopping back at her dad's grocery store for a snack on the way home. I'm sure he really liked paying for MY treats every day! I'm sure we usually just got a candy bar, but I remember occasionally getting a pint of ice cream.
Even after we moved away when I was 11, we still contrived to see each other regularly. Or as often as we could convince our parents that one of us spending the night wasn't going to cause any of them any extra effort or time. Luckily for us they quite often said, "yes." We wrote letters to each other frequently, especially when she went away to college. I was actually a pretty prolific letter-writer back in those days.
I remember the first time she and I went downtown shopping alone after she got her license. It wasn't "her" town, and she was frustrated at the stupid one-way streets and alleys and missing parking lot entrances, so I convinced her to let me drive. Yup, I didn't have a license yet, but we didn't care. If anything, I was more careful for that reason! That day we also both learned how to pump our own gas. She hadn't done that yet because in Oregon you aren't allowed, and the learning opportunity hadn't come my way yet.
Tammy was one of my bridesmaids. I was one of hers years later. I went in a pouring rainstorm (with broken wipes) 60+ miles to Portland, after arguing with my husband about my "need to go", to the hospital for the birth of her first child.
After my divorce and remarriage we didn't talk as often as I would have liked, but she was one of the first people I called to tell my news of my pregnancy with our first child. She wasn't happy with me. She tried to tell me how wrong I was to be with this man (who I am still with after 7 years, btw). I felt that instead of sharing in my joy, she was condemning me, trying to tell me how I should live my life, that I wasn't being a good Christian. Naturally, women are a bit more emotional during pregnancy, and I told her that I couldn't talk to her anymore, said goodbye (I think?), and hung up on her. I only meant that I couldn't talk to her anymore at that moment, but that was the last conversation we had. I think I cried more that night about the loss of a friend than I had cried about anything in years. My sweet husband's love comforted me and gave me the strength to go on, though.
Her mother died of cancer nearly 4 years ago. Mary had always been like a second mom to me, and it was very sad, especially since I never made it to see her after I knew she was sick. I went to her funeral, awash in deep grief over my own personal tragedy (another story). They had a time for people to get up and share their memories of Mary. I was surrounded by people that I knew, yet I was alone there. I somehow managed to get up in line to speak, and then I somehow managed to choke out a few sentences. I couldn't say all the things that were on my mind, the tears choking out what my turmoiled mind managed to let escape. "Mary loved me. She loved me!" I know I said a few other things, but they are lost now.
There was so much more I wanted to say. I wanted to say that she would never have treated me the way my own mother was. That she would done everything in her power to help me, and not cause me more grief and pain. However much I wanted to use that time, in front of my family and friends, to give a sermon/lecture on how things should have been, I knew that it wasn't the time or place for my problems. I still think they need to hear it, though, but I doubt that it will ever happen.
I wanted to talk to Tammy, her husband, sister, brother...but I don't think I even got a hug. Last year I sent her birthday greetings via private message on facebook, but she didn't respond. I still think of her, though, and I still wish her the best on this day and every day.
Tammy, if you ever read this, know that I still love you, and I miss our friendship. I hope you have a happy family life. You certainly have beautiful children.
There is more to why this day is a mixture of happiness and sorrow, but I have to save that for later. Now is not the time for more tears, and yet I can't help but cry as I sit here.