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Learning to feel again

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When I started the semester, I thought that having two part time jobs and being a full time student would be the biggest stressors in my life. And then my best friend died.

Her name is Madeline.

***

When someone dies, people automatically attempt to glorify their character and ignore their flaws. I refuse to do that. It would be an insult to her memory. Maddie was human, just like you and me.

Every time she asked me to hang out, it wasn’t, “Jenna, do you want to hang out?” It was, “Jenna, do you want to play? Will you play with me?”

The world was her playground.

She didn’t take herself too seriously. She was passionate, she had a temper, she knew how to push people’s buttons, how to get people to react and to pay attention to her. She was theatrical. She was always talking. She always had something to say. Sometimes she would talk so much that I couldn’t get a word in. Eventually, I started texting her whenever I had something really important to talk about so she didn’t have the ability to interrupt.

I wish she were here to interrupt me now.

She knew how to feel pain, to really feel it. When Maddie was upset, everybody knew it. She wasn’t shy. She cried when she needed to cry. She screamed when she needed to scream. She was bold. I always admired her for that. She knew what she wanted out of life and she fought for it.

We were always a team, but I was her sidekick. I was the quiet one, the listener, the damage control and the mediator.

We were both each other’s moms.

“Jenna, do your homework.”

“Maddie, when was the last time you brushed your hair?”

Both of us: “You deserve better.”

There was never an, “I told you so,” even though we both constantly, consistently, repeatedly told each other so.

When I got the call on Sept. 1, I thought it was a joke.

My friend called. She told me Maddie had gotten into an accident. She was a notoriously crazy driver, so my reaction was, “How bad is her car? How much will it cost to fix?”

“Maddie’s dead, Jenna.”

What? Are you joking? Who told you?”

Followed by: disbelief, denial, an explanation, listening, ears open, words don’t register, standing up, can’t feel my feet, walking outside, Maddie’s dead, hyperventilating, trying to call her, falling to the ground, she doesn’t answer, moaning, rolling on the concrete, screaming.

The air fell out of my body that day and I still haven’t been able to regain it. Everything reminds me of her. Every beautiful thing I see is Maddie.

Best friends are like soul mates: you only get one. If you’re truly soul-friends, your relationship doesn’t end even if one of your lives does. I will save a space for her at my wedding. I will tell her when I get a promotion at work. I will tell my children about her. Now that she’s gone, I’m living for both of us. I’m fighting for both of us. My days of being a sidekick are over. I’m not OK with being the quiet one anymore.

I will be bold because she can’t. I will scream because she can’t. I will cry because she can’t. And eventually, I will learn to feel again.

The purpose of life is that there is no purpose. Your life only has purpose if you give it one. Life can be taken away in an instant, by an accident, accidentally. It’s a grand cosmic coincidence that you are on this earth in the first place.

Don’t waste your coincidence. Be bold.

email: jenna.bower@ubspectrum.com


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