Time heals all wounds. It’s a lie. Time only makes pain more tolerable. And then one little thing happens and the pain is as fresh as the day it started.
Everyone has hard times; everyone has chapters in their lives they want to forget - I’m nothing special in that sense. I’m an open-book. Almost. There is one chapter that I don’t share openly. I’m not ashamed of it. But sometimes I feel as though talking about this time in my life is, in a way, bragging of my own sob story. Then it seems trivial, when it was anything but. Others have had harder times and my story isn’t very unique. But it is precious; therefore I shield it from judgment and harm because I don’t think anyone can really understand. But it has come to define me. It is my chapter, my life, my story.
I remember when the age of 25 seemed old, but it’s not, it’s so young. We should be facing our quarter-life crises together, getting drunk at bars, worrying about money, and kissing men - not boys. But instead today is just another day where I’m left wondering about all the stories we never made. Samantha would be 25 today. My quarter-life crisis started when I was 21, the same time Samantha’s life ended.
My emotions have become a brick wall when it comes to cancer. I am not fazed by it, nor am I saddened by the mention of it. It’s hardened me in a way that is unflattering, for I am unsympathetic towards cancer, an evil and indifferent disease. But almost everyone has been touched by cancer in one way or another, therefore I am not special, and those affected by the disease are no less deserving of my sympathy. I guess it’s made me bitter - that I had to live through it and witness its unmerciless attacks while my best friend had to die from it.
My unflattering and emotionless brick wall may appear bitter, and it is. But it hides the sincere empathy I have for those that have the ill fate to be affected by the disease. I understand more than anyone really realizes. But I reserve and withhold my understanding and empathetic nature for fear that it will open up the wound of my loss and pour salt in it. That would simply be unbearable.
And then the other day, while watching a silly television show, with an ill written cancer storyline, I burst into tears. An unimportant, minor character was discovered, frail and pale, in chemo treatment. The character had relapsed and all the old memories that I had buried were all on the surface again – or maybe they were already there because of her impending birthday. I remembered Samantha’s voice each time she told me she relapsed, what she looked like after weeks of treatment, my fears and my loss. And it was unbearable.
It doesn’t get easier. I don’t cry as much, but I still think about it. Not the cancer – never the cancer. But I still think she’s a phone call away. There’s still a hole in my life where I know she would- should- be. How can it be four years since we turned 21? How do you get past losing a best friend?
I carry Samantha with me everywhere. She’d love West Virginia, and St. Louis and even Danville. She would love the bars, the music, the dancing. She’d tell me my jokes are horrible and kick my ass in the gym. She’d tell me to get over my broken heart and then kill the boy that broke it. She’d also tell me the truth, that the guys I waste time on don’t deserve me. She’d be sympathetic when I didn’t deserve it, loud when I am quiet. She wouldn’t put up with any shit and wouldn’t linger on the unnecessary or unwanted.
Sometimes, I think I romanticize her memory, but she wasn’t perfect. She’d speak without thinking. She had horrible taste in boys. She liked crappy romance movies like Tristan & Isolde, The Lake House. She took terrible care of her car. She didn’t always give people second chances. She had a hard time saying “no.” Jokes sometimes had to be explained her. But she was smart, she was fun, and she was kind. She needed me as much as I needed her – which is my favorite quality in a true friend.
She was fierce. She was loyal. She was human.
And I miss her.
“Remember that the pain of parting from friends will be felt by everybody at times, whatever be their education or state. Know your own happiness. Want for nothing but patience. Or give it a more fascinating name: call it hope.”