This post is my response to a prompt from Write On Edge to write a memoir piece about a friend. I’ve never been a social butterfly, with a large complement of friends. I tend to make just a few, and my natural inclination toward being a hermit makes maintaining those relationships difficult. This couple was the first “couple” friendship my husband and I had, and we treasured it.
When I got in my car that morning, the first thing I did was plug in my cell phone. The battery had died, and for days I kept forgetting to charge it.
It beeped at me as I pulled into the parking lot, signaling that I had voicemail—not surprising since the thing had been off for more than three days. When I reached to unplug it, I checked the missed calls out of habit.
It was my friend’s phone number.
Over and over again.
For the last three days.
Our families had been close when we lived in Wyoming. I used to joke that if I hadn’t married my husband, I’d definitely have married hers. The two of them were an amazing couple. She was bright and funny and loving, and he was brilliant and gentle and unbelievably caring.
Then they moved to Colorado, we moved to North Carolina, and between the two of us we didn’t talk as much as we should have. We hadn’t lost touch…not yet…but we hadn’t talked in a few months.
I picked up the first message.
Then the second.
Then the third.
And finally, the fourth.
It was my friend, but her voice sounded different. Instead of bubbly, or pissed, or any of the other extremes I was used to, she was quiet. Something had happened, she told me each time, something bad. Please call.
I didn’t want to. I sat in my car and stared at my phone and thought of a hundred reasons to put it off. I was already late for work. It was probably no big deal. Something had upset her, and she’d be over it by now.
But she’d sounded…off. Really off.
I dialed, forgetting that with the time difference it would be 6:30 in the morning out there. By the time I thought of it, she answered.
Mike, her husband of seventeen years, my alternative husband, one of the best people I’ve ever known, was gone. Taken in the blink of an eye by a kid so drunk and high, he was ejected from his truck and walked away with barely a scratch.
I’d been her friend through thick and thin for over ten years, but I didn’t know how to be a friend in that moment. All I could do was cry with her on the phone, separated by 1500 miles.