I got the notice late Monday night anyone attending should wear pink. I was at a loss, struggling all day debating whether or not I should come. This was the last straw - I was feeling overweight, unkempt, beat from two weeks of working in LA, like I didn't deserve to ache from your loss and certainly not ready to face this wrenching reality. I opened my computer to send a message that I wouldn’t make it, and a voice in my head said to just check the closet.
Funny how I randomly brought that dress with me. All my life, I’ve looked for signs to guide me along my path, and there hanging in the closet of the place we’re housesitting in Minneapolis among only the dozen pieces of clothing I have with me was a lone navy dress, trimmed in fuchsia. I went back to my computer and bought the ticket.
Sitting on the plane, I happened on a quote that reminded me how close to my heart I’ve always held you,
The only time I’ve openly cried since getting the news was when I had to tell my baby brother. I recognized the awful crack in his voice I’ve only heard a couple times before - you meant so much to my family, and so, so much to me.
I remember hearing you on the phone in the hallway of the sorority house night after night, crying and arguing with someone on the other end. Your conversations were eerily similar to the ones I was having in the corner of the courtyard where no one could hear my hurt. Each night you’d hang up and walk past my room, mascara smeared under your eyes and a heart full of despair.
It was just before Thanksgiving when I heard you hang up the phone and just sob there on the floor. I sat down next to you and held out my hand - you held it so tightly. Without thinking, I asked if you wanted to come on our family vacation for the long holiday weekend - we were headed to Gatlinburg for my brothers’ football tournament - and you accepted with all the smile you could muster.
Anyone who readily agrees to get in a car with my dear family for a 12 hour drive to Tennessee is in desperate need of a getaway, and somehow it was just what we both needed. I couldn’t pick my favorite memory from that trip - the playground in the rain, making wax hands or eating shit on the ice again and again. It was the very beginning of a friendship that would see me through my college years, and for that I’m forever grateful.
One day I hope to share our stories with your girls. Tales of holiday armadillos, laser dance parties, karaoke, stolen porch chairs, highway angels, pink leopard print, metal half shirts, ladies nights, spider bites, Spring Break tattoos, dirty south hip hop, lake rides in Sassie, Miami-style, Capris, snakes in the bathtub, minnie van adventures, TV with the girls in the morning and that damn Frankenstein door hanger your mom loved at Halloween — I cherish our stories and will hold each of them in my heart as long as I live.
It wasn’t long ago we made plans to spend time together when we moved down permanently. I couldn’t wait to see how you’d grown, what life you’d built for you and yours. I took for granted you would be there when we came home - thought we would share another drink and catch up on years gone by. Rather, you’ve reminded me to never wait - take the moments we have now - and tell those we love how very much we love them.
You stood by me through my challenges, never gave up on me, forgave all of my shortcomings and loved me for all that I am and never will be. You will forever be one of my dearest friends, and I ache at the thought of never again hearing your laugh or seeing your smile. Your girls, your husband, your family are forever welcome at my door - I will do anything I can to support them and help your legacy live on. I promise to wear pink more often - I might even get a butterfly tattoo. I will always crank Lady Red at top volume and your name will always be part of my lyrics.