It all started in college.
If I recall correctly, we met, or at least spoke, for the first time at a basketball game, our sophomore year at Centenary College of Louisiana. From there, she became my go-to girl, my wingman, my shoulder to cry on, my compatriot to get drunk and laugh with. She has always given the best advice, and insisted upon meeting my husband prior to giving me permission to get serious with him because she knew damn well how lousy I was at picking guys.
She was my roommate. We were each other’s maids of honor. She was my son’s godmother, and the first person I called after he died. When she got the call, she was at a conference in Indianapolis. The next day, she flew home to Dallas, repacked her bag, got back onto a flight to Detroit, all in one day, and was one of the last to leave when all the funeral insanity was over.
This past weekend, she flew back to Detroit and helped me clean out the room. All the way across the country to clean out a thirteen year old’s dusty, unused bedroom. And we did it. We got through it.
I couldn’t have without her. If she hadn’t come up this weekend, the door would still be closed, the room still untouched. Possibly until my own death, or if we ever decided to move. I mean, there are only three of us now, and we have a basement, which is where guests stay when they visit overnight. We certainly don’t need the space.
But it’s done now. Well, not quite. We still have a few small trinkets to determine whether to keep or throw away, and a pile of computer stuff to figure out whether to sell, donate, or recycle. But the clothes, the bed, the book bag, the old toys and books, the random bits of memorabilia; it’s all gone. The room is mostly empty. And the door now stands open, allowing the sunlight to stream into the otherwise dark, interior hall. This was, in truth, my driving force for cleaning it out in the first place. To have sunlight in a dark place.
It was hard, but not as hard as I expected, at least until we got to that top shelf in the closet. The one where he’d stored his newborn baby blanket in a box, intending to give to his own child someday. He was only six when he made that decision.
That shelf was also where I’d stored the boxes of baby memorabilia, including one my bestie had made for me when he was born. And a journal my mom had been keeping, when she babysat him when he was an infant. Literally, day by day notes of his life.
A life gone far too soon.
There was a “Big Brother” T-shirt up there, too. And a teddy bear that was signed by everyone who’d attended my baby shower. I didn’t even open the box full of homemade gifts from daycare and early elementary school. Seeing, touching the blanket was bad enough.
One more milestone, conquered. Yet another I wished I didn’t have to get through; never dreamed I’d have to.
That was the first day of a four-day weekend. After dropping off a truckload of supplies to the local Salvation Army, we put on pajamas and chilled the wine and relaxed with my husband and daughter; let the sadness slowly recede while we enjoyed excellent food, wine, and company. Especially the company.
And then we spent the rest of the weekend playing. My bestie got to see my daughter’s basketball team win. My parents and in-laws got to see my bestie. My daughter spent the night at a friend’s, so we got to “adult” on Saturday evening, which involved a lot of wine and a few other good friends. Before the night was over, we’d concocted a plan for our next get-together.
On Sunday I took her into the city; she’d never been to Detroit before. We negotiated with a parking attendant, ate at a cool, hip restaurant, visited the riverfront, and took pictures with Canada in the background.
And Monday, before I had to take her to the airport and let her return to her own life, we did one of our favorite “together” activities: we had afternoon tea.
While the purpose for the visit was depressing as hell, it was truly one of the best weekends of my life. And it was all because I have such an amazing best friend.