She wasn’t my best friend. At one time she was, but for the last 16 years she was my oldest friend, my neighbour, my memories. And today we lay her to rest after a brave battle with Cancer.
The loss is deep to everyone who knew her. She was a wife, a mother, a sister, a daughter. But to me, she was (and always will be) that mischievous little girl just on the cusp of womanhood. It hurts because there’s no one else in the world who has our shared past. The girl you grew up with, who you revelled in the innocence of childhood with, she’s the one who understands who you were before hormones and teen-dom and the pressures of being an adult changed you. She’s the only one who knows me like that – the other me. Or at least she was.
Our secrets and stories and lies and dares are all my own now. There’s no one else who will say OH YA! when I ask, Do you remember when we…?
There’s no one else who understands endless bike rides, forbidden trips to the store, giggles as we lay on her floor. There’s no one else who will remember our first joint crush, our first crank call, our weekly Saturday night sleepovers, our whispers into the early hours.
People ask, But were you that close? We were, but not how you’d understand. She had girlfriends who knew everything about the now her. But I knew the before her. It cuts. I struggle with it. No, we weren’t that close. We didn’t need to be, not like you’d think. Being her chemo buddy was the greatest honour I have ever had. I’ll treasure the knowledge that maybe for one moment I could ease her with a giggle, a memory dredged up from the past, quiet (sure I struggle with that one, but I tried at least). I could never say no to her. I didn’t want to. Sure there were other better friends who could have been called upon to drive her, make her dinner, host a party for her.
But I wanted to do it. I wanted to make her happy. To put a smile on her face, to see the laughter and love of life in her eyes. I knew she would do the same for me.
When you lose someone they take a piece of you with them. She’s taken us with her. She’s everywhere I look. When I hear music, I’ll know she wants to dance. When there’s attention to be had, I’ll know that she wants it. When I blow dry my hair I’ll remember how her hair was her beauty to her. When I see a book she’d like I’ll know she would love me to share it with her. When I wear purple, I’ll know that we had the same favourite colour. When I watch our favourite soap I’ll want to text her snarky comments about the newest cast member or latest hookup.
I remember the one time in the 10 years or so that we weren’t in touch that I saw her in a restaurant. Even from a distance, I wanted to know her again. I should have just walked right up to her, but I didn’t. It happened naturally anyways – we ended up living in the same neighbourhood, our kids became friends, our sons were born one day apart (with the same name.)
Funny how history likes to find itself.
She wasn’t my best friend. But I hope that she knows what she meant to me.
Elysa, you’re forever in my heart because you’re a piece of who I am. I love you. I hope you’ve found peace now.
If you want to honour Elysa’s memory, please consider making a donation to Elysa’s Angels c/c Princess Margaret Hospital. Call (416) 946-6560 to support the wonderful work I witnessed first hand at this incredible place.