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cw: grief

It’s been over a year since I saw my best friend.

The last time I saw her, she was at work. She worked the fabric counter at JoAnn’s. I try not to drive past JoAnn’s anymore.

I went in to look for planner stuff with my friend Jess. They never have any good planner stuff at JoAnn’s, but I went anyway because Jill was there.

When I left, I bought a decorative cowbell. I left it with one of her coworkers and said, “This is for Jill. Just keep it up here, okay?” The coworker didn’t really get it, but I knew Jill would. She knew that I knew that she had a fever and the only prescription was more cowbell.

We were going to get together after the holidays because she worked retail, and her schedule was nuts.

Today, I grabbed my planner and excitedly told Mr. Jen, “Just a few more weeks until I get to use my new planner!” I flipped back to the first week in it, which began December 27, 2021, and ended January 2nd, 2022. January 1st: “MIMOSAS ALL DAY!”

I turned the page.

I turned it back.

December 27, 2021 to January 2nd, 2022. The last week I remember feeling happy. I don’t remember what that feels like.

I don’t remember what it felt like to hug Jill that last time I saw her, the quick “stop in to say hello” that I didn’t know would be the last time. She gave great hugs, and I can’t remember them.

The week of January 10, 2022, to January 16, 2022, have two days where there’s nothing but a black square with numbers beside them. Black square, 4 – 7. Black square, 11.

I didn’t want to write down what those events were.

I don’t know remember what happy is.

But I know that it’s now been over a year since I stopped into Jill’s work on the pretense that I wanted to look at the always-lacking planner section when I really just wanted an excuse to say “hi” while I was in town. It’s been over a year since she sent me a picture of what she did with that stupid cowbell: obviously, she taped a picture of Will Ferrel to it.

It’s been over a year since I’ve seen my best friend.

I’ll never see her again.

I don’t remember what happy is.

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  1. C.W. Reads
    C.W. Reads

    I know completely how you feel. I lost my best friend (soul-sister) in 2009 because of H1N1. One minute she is talking to me about how she couldn’t do anything for Thanksgiving because her sons were sick. The next thing I know she is in the hospital and I never talk to her again. I really think that is when I just stopped carrying about being happy. I make sure my kids and close friends are happy, but I don’t feel happy. Grief sucks. People will tell other people to just get over it, but they don’t understand that time doesn’t always heal some wounds. That when you care about someone so much that when they pass away a part of you goes with them. I have no words of comfort. I just want you to know you aren’t alone because I know how you feel. There are others of us out here that know how you feel.

    November 21, 2022
  2. Jenny (But not Jenny Trout)
    Jenny (But not Jenny Trout)

    I’m so sorry. Death is never easy and there’s no expiration date on it.

    I lost my dad this year (technically not covid, but it was a result of complications from his catching covid – he was vaccinated and still caught it). I don’t like living a world he doesn’t exist in. It’s just wrong. My mom doesn’t understand that I was suicidal around his memorial (I’m doing better – please don’t worry and thank you therapy) but that it still takes time to deal with. I’m not magically okay just because I managed to back off that metaphorical ledge.

    November 21, 2022
  3. Leslie

    I relate to this. I also see you and your pain. One of the themes in the book I’m writing is death doesn’t end love, and it’s a great sentiment, but it doesn’t make any of us feel less broken when we’re the ones left behind. Maybe on the good days, that thought brings us some comfort, but on the bad days it’s hard to find any. The one good I’ve decided is that my Jill knew I loved them so much. They left me knowing that. And I’m still here, knowing they felt the same and I get to go on being lucky enough to have known that much love in return. Doesn’t mean it’s enough most days. But it’s all I have to hang on to. Much love, and always, always more cowbell.

    November 25, 2022
  4. It just fucking hurts, and the only way through it is, well, THROUGH it, which also hurts. I hope you’ll find ways to include all of the joys of your friendship with Jill in future stories, and will remember those belly-laughs and obscure conversations with only happiness.

    November 27, 2022
  5. Al
    November 29, 2022
  6. Jane Jones
    Jane Jones

    I remember this pain so well. It took a long time to remember what happy was, because I was so consumed with the darkness and the unfairness of it all.

    You’ll get there. You’ll remember. And then you’ll probably feel guilty about remembering, but that’s okay.

    December 2, 2022

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