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Jill is my best friend. Jill is gone.

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Jill and I met in 1994, freshman year gym class. I was brand new. All the other kids were from local Catholic feeder schools. When the teacher sadistically instructed us to pick a partner during the very first day of class, the only two students left without a partner were Jill and me.

But she said I couldn’t be her partner because she’d already partnered up with an invisible friend.

It wasn’t a joke. She refused to be my partner.

That’s how we became friends.

On January 6th, 2022, Jill died suddenly in her sleep.

In the course of our friendship, we went to all sorts of places together. We saw the Liberty Bell together. She pointed at a painting of Benjamin Franklin and John Adams reading the Declaration of Independence as Thomas Jefferson looked on.  She leaned over and said, “Hey, can I get your John Hancock on this?”

It’s still the funniest thing I’ve ever heard anyone say.

Jill found the cold, impersonal nature of the “have a good summer” yearbook signature perfect for birthday cards and books and basically anything she could write on and give to me. She gave me the same birthday card every year. It’s a plain white card with “Happy Birthday! I got you a card! This is the front.” The inside read, “This is the inside.” And on the back, “This is the back.” When I recently directed a show, she came and brought me a card she made. “You directed a show! I got you a card. This is the front.”

Once, we were at the mall. Bath and Body Works had a seasonal candle with Elton John’s name on it. Jill picked it up, took the lid off, inhaled, then said to the sales associate, “This doesn’t smell anything like him.”

My heart is broken.

We had a running joke where we’d always ask each other, “are you mad at me?” We never were. Neither of us could remember a time we were ever in a fight.

When someone dies, their texts and messages don’t disappear. You can still see your ongoing conversation as if it could keep going. I sat in front of our open messenger chat and typed, “This time I really am mad at you.” I couldn’t send it. I don’t want her to think I’m really mad at her. It’s not her fault.

I don’t know how to be me without her.

We both made Spotify playlists about each other. Mine is titled, “Jill and Jen BFFs 4Eva” and she called hers, “IDK, my BFF Jen?” due to the fact that we constantly referenced that old cellphone commercial where the little girl is texting, “IDK, my BFF, Jill?” Both playlists have “our” song, “Little Wonders” by Rob Thomas, on them. They also both have liberal doses of the Spice Girls because they were our thing. 

We had thousands, maybe tens of thousands, probably millions of things that were our thing.

There are more photos of Jill on the walls of my home than there are photos of my kids. To be fair, I’ve known Jill longer.

Once, we spent an entire day using MS Paint to draw “Ghost Frank” (he looks exactly how you’d imagine an MS Paint ghost to look) into photos with the Beach Boys. Ghost Frank is the fifth Beach Boy, no matter what John Stamos thinks. It’s just that nobody acknowledges Ghost Frank because he accused Brian Wilson of stealing his wallet. I tried to joke with Mr. Jen that I had to break the news to Ghost Frank and that he would be devastated. But Mr. Jen didn’t get it. Only Jill would get it.

Jill is gone.

Our jokes, our codes, the language of our friendship is a dead language now. Only one speaker is left and it is impossible to teach. It takes twenty-seven years to become fluent.

Jill is my best friend. Jill is gone.


I wrote this throughout the day yesterday after I got the call. I can’t decide who to be or how to be a Jenny who doesn’t have a Jill. So, I’m going to just run on autopilot. I’m going to work, I’m going to rehearsals, I’m going to consider whether or not I could sit through her funeral with dignity or if I can’t bear to think of a life where I’ve been to Jill’s funeral because Jill’s funeral was a thing that happened. But please, as you see me posting content here and over on Patreon, as you see me living my life as usual, please don’t think it’s because I don’t care about her. It’s just because I’m sleep-walking through life with a broken heart.

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27 Comments

  1. Angelina
    Angelina

    Saying I’m sorry doesn’t cut it, but I am.

    January 7, 2022
    |Reply
  2. madseance
    madseance

    I’m so sorry, Jenny. Thanks for letting us all know Jill a tiny bit; she sounds like an absolute riot.

    January 7, 2022
    |Reply
  3. I’m so sorry. There are no words. My best friend died in August 2020 from EDS complications.

    January 7, 2022
    |Reply
  4. anne
    anne

    So sorry for your loss, Jenny. Jill shaped you as a person and your understanding of language, and we all are so thankful for that.

    January 7, 2022
    |Reply
  5. ((HUGS)) I am so so sorry for your lost.

    January 7, 2022
    |Reply
  6. Amanda
    Amanda

    I’m so very, very sorry.

    January 7, 2022
    |Reply
  7. Bookjunk
    Bookjunk

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Jenny.

    January 7, 2022
    |Reply
  8. C-Puff
    C-Puff

    I’m so sorry, Jenny.

    January 7, 2022
    |Reply
  9. Stormy
    Stormy

    You and Jill’s family will be in my thoughts, Jenny. You’ve shared so many stories about her over the years that I felt a small shock when I read the news even though I never met her. May her memory be a blessing as you go through this incredibly tough time.

    January 7, 2022
    |Reply
  10. Terri
    Terri

    Wishing I could hug you and your broken heart. I am so sorry.

    January 7, 2022
    |Reply
  11. Chelsea Gaither
    Chelsea Gaither

    Jenny, I’ve been a long time reader (Since you were posting the 50 shades read through) and all I’ll say is I am so sorry.

    Pain is the price and the proof of love. When you love somebody, you make yourself open and vulnerable to pain, either through conflict or through this final leave-taking…but the hurt means it was real. They were there. They mattered to you, and you gave them the best of yourself that you could.

    I don’t like saying that the pain will get better, because that is its own kind of hurting, and sometimes healing is the last thing we want to do. But you carry her memory inside of you. You are a more powerful memorial to her than anything human hands could build. Your autopilot does her honor.

    January 7, 2022
    |Reply
  12. Jessica
    Jessica

    This sucks so hard. I’m sorry for your loss. Truly. D:

    January 7, 2022
    |Reply
  13. Molly Boyette
    Molly Boyette

    Jenny, I’m so sorry. I can’t begin to imagine how you’re feeling. I’m just so sorry.♥️

    January 7, 2022
    |Reply
  14. Landra Graf
    Landra Graf

    Thank you for sharing those memories with us. In fact, share more.
    I am sorry and that phrase doesn’t do anything, which sucks.
    All the hugs.

    January 7, 2022
    |Reply
  15. Krissi
    Krissi

    Jenny I’m so sorry. This brought me right back to when I lost one of my best friends ever. Jill was awesome. I am so sorry for your loss. Big hugs Jenny. ❤

    January 7, 2022
    |Reply
  16. Sara L.
    Sara L.

    I’m so, so sorry for your loss. This beautiful piece made me know her a little bit. You were so lucky to have someone like this. Not everyone gets a Jill. But you did.

    January 7, 2022
    |Reply
  17. Nic
    Nic

    I hope you’re able to find rest and healing as much as possible in these coming days, Jenny. Losing a loved one suddenly, especially when you had no chance to say goodbye, is such an awful tragedy. It will take a lot of time for the pain to recede, but I hope you’re able to be kind to yourself even in your grief. Take as much time as you need to heal. Your audience and your family will be praying for you no matter how long you’re gone.

    Jill sounds like she was a wonderful friend. I’ll be keeping her family and you in my thoughts tonight. May her memory be a blessing, and may she find peace and comfort, wherever she may be now.

    January 7, 2022
    |Reply
  18. Sheila the Wonderbink
    Sheila the Wonderbink

    Deepest condolences to you and to all who knew and loved her.

    January 7, 2022
    |Reply
  19. Hannah
    Hannah

    Oh, Jenny, I’m so sorry. This is horrific. You’ve mentioned Jill so much over the years I feel as if I know her too. The friendship you two shared was so special.

    January 7, 2022
    |Reply
  20. Alissa
    Alissa

    Oh Jenny. Crushing news. I remember you telling the story of the John Hancock joke and agreeing with you that that is seriously funny shit. Much love for you from an internet stranger and longtime fan. It’s so hard.

    January 7, 2022
    |Reply
  21. Zev
    Zev

    I can’t imagine what you’re going through. I’m so sorry for your loss. This is awful.

    January 7, 2022
    |Reply
  22. Jordan Bell
    Jordan Bell

    I’m so sorry for your loss. May her memory be a blessing for you and for all who loved her.

    January 8, 2022
    |Reply
  23. Ilex
    Ilex

    I’m so sad for you going through this, Jen. What an awesome tribute to Jill and your friendship.

    January 8, 2022
    |Reply
  24. Cooper
    Cooper

    Grief comes in all forms and is apt to change from one day to the next. You handle your grief in any way you need and fuck anyone who feels differently.

    I am so so sorry for your loss. This post had me going from tears to laughter and back to tears again. Thank you for sharing a few pieces of Jill with us.

    January 10, 2022
    |Reply
  25. Al
    Al

    I’m really sorry for your loss. No one should have to go through that

    January 10, 2022
    |Reply
  26. Veerle VV
    Veerle VV

    I first read about Jill on this blog, presumably your 50 shades recaps, where you said something along the lines of “something I’d be jilling of to (a phrase that my friend Jill absolutely hates)” and that line stuck with me throughout the years. To this day I wonder, not being a native English speaker, if you came up with that yourself or if it’s an actual verb. Weird how the mind works, huh?
    I’m so sorry this awesome person is dead, it sucks and it isn’t fair.

    January 12, 2022
    |Reply
    • So, there’s an English nursery rhyme about Jack and Jill that most native speakers learn when they’re really young. Since “jacking off” is slang for masturbation with a penis, people started saying “jilling off” for people with vaginas because of that innocent little rhyme and Jill HAAAAAAAATED that.

      January 13, 2022
      |Reply

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