Six months has come and gone, but I am still very much stuck in August 2013. It’s like I’m trapped in this fragile little bubble of work, school, food, Plurk, and One Direction, using those things to cope with a hurtful reality. Today I have a snow day from school, so when the biggest distracter doesn’t do its job, I’m left with my thoughts and reflecting on a very painful “anniversary”, and a date that only means something to a handful of people.
A few days ago, I said in a Plurk that this past week was one of the most emotional in my life, second only to the weeks following Andrea’s passing. My life is now changing in a very drastic and demanding way, and the stress coming from school is so taxing that 3/5 nights a week I don’t even walk through the door until 9pm at night, having left my house at 7am. I think about last summer when the excitement after having been accepted to graduate school calmed down and I started to talk about it with Andrea, what my life was going to be like and how it would affect our friendship. I remember worrying about not getting to talk to her and not being able to log on SL as much, and even after expressing to her all of these troubles and worries, she did what she was so good at doing and reassured me that everything would be alright. I always thought of her as my own personal Bob Marley, singing about 3 little birds. This past week I met my 3 clients for the first time and had my very first therapy sessions with them. I had to make up all my own materials, craft session plans according to rules and guidelines and fill out hours of paperwork, and even though I’m totally being dramatic and making it sound like pure hell, I wouldn’t rather be doing anything else. When I walked out of my last session on Thursday to my supervisor telling me that I looked like a professional in a room with a kid with severe Childhood Apraxia of Speech and ADHD, I fell apart. I cried then and there, and I went home and cried some more. When I shared my experience and relief, everyone told me how proud they were and how far I’ve come and how they knew I could do it when I had doubt in myself. I love every single person who has supported and encouraged me, and the appreciation I have for you all is endless. Still, I can’t help but confess something is missing. The automatic and familiar words of encouragement and appreciation from the person who has literally been there every single step of the way. The voice and the words that pushed me to succeed and motivated me to be the person she already knew I would turn out to be. She’s missing.
When I am in a session with a client working on expressive language production and my supervisor and the parent are analyzing my every move from the other side of a one way mirror making sure I’m doing everything according to protocol, oddly enough, I am alright. But when I stop to think that 6 months ago the best friend I have ever known was taken from this world without even a last goodbye, all I feel is broken and anything but Bob Marley’s alright.
Before, it was a day, two tops, that we’d ever gone without speaking. Not even the worst arguments we had could keep us silent for more than a few hours, and even those few hours felt like an eternity because we always turned to each other after a disagreement with someone else. The other person always had the answer, always told the truth, always told it as it was. We had the kind of relationship where nothing surprised either of us, and we could tell one another literally anything. Half the time I didn’t even have to say more than one word, she just knew. No eye contact, no inflection in my voice to go off of, no facial expression or body language; just one word. One word and she knew something was bothering me, and most of the time she knew exactly what it was, too. Had I known just how sick she was, I’d obviously do things differently, probably would have dropped everything and flown out to England with the last of my savings. She meant the world to me, she still means the world to me, and I won’t ever get sick of telling people that.
I often speak to Andrea’s mum, and that’s a blessing that I am thankful for every single day. She is a beautiful and strong person, much stronger than she realizes, and I see so much of Andrea in her. Last week she said something that resonated with me, and I’d like to share it here. She said that “time doesn’t heal all wounds” and she couldn’t be more right. The death of the most important person in your life is not something you will ever “get over” or “heal from”, it’s not a pretty bad breakup or a bad fight with a close friend. It’s a tragic loss, a debt that will never be repaid, words of encouragement that will never be spoken again, only remembered. I don’t really think it’s something you ever learn to accept either. Maybe I will never accept that she is gone, maybe that’s not healthy and maybe it’s not what a therapist would tell me, but that word is too harsh for me. I cannot accept that I won’t ever be able to meet my best friend. What I can do, though, is wake up in the morning and try to cope as best I can. Live my life for myself and for her in a way that would make her proud. Put on my smiley happy face for the world, go out, do my thing, come home at the end of the day, and try to not fall apart.
Six months. This is the longest period in my life that I’ve ever gone without speaking to my best friend, without hearing her voice, not having the chance to grow stronger from her encouraging words, not smiling because of a witty comment or shaking my head and then laughing anyways because of an off color one. I was looking through her blog today and found myself at the entry she made about a year ago, exactly 6 months and 2 days before the day she passed away (link here). I was almost surprised to see one of the first mesh dresses I’d ever textured staring back at me. I half expected it to be another one of her blogs featuring the good old Union Jack, or one of her typically fashionable ensembles, but there was my dress and there was my name.
“I’m so proud of my best friend, Delaney.”
And then the tears started to flow. Last week on Thursday I was in little pieces after stepping off what felt like a rollercoaster of nervousness and happiness and personal satisfaction. A week of achieving another major milestone in my life, with a side of utter despair that I wouldn’t get to share it with Andrea. Then I stumbled across that blog, and those words, which obviously were meant for a different time in our lives, but they hit me harder now than they ever did the first time I read them one year ago. You don’t always have to hear something or see something to know love. Sometimes you just feel it. Love is strange, love is weird and unpredictable. Love isn’t something that will ever go away when someone passes, because they live on in your mind and in your heart. They leave behind memories and even personal artifacts that embody who they were and who you will become. Time stops for no one, so why should love?
Even after her untimely death, Andrea is still teaching me things about myself, and that’s why I will love her until the day I see her again.