Did you say it? ‘I love you. I don’t ever want to live without you. You changed my life.’ Did you say it? Make a plan. Set a goal. Work toward it, but every now and then, look around; Drink it in ‘cause this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow.”
It is 5:30 in the morning and you are standing at a window, watching the dawn break against the city sky. A few feet away and separated by thick emergency doors is the childhood friend you haven’t seen in 10 years. It is the last hour of her life, and you have come to say goodbye.
You think about the first time you met Tera. Freshman Algebra. You bonded over your mutual hatred of the teacher, whose name you can’t remember, but whose cane and shrill voice you will never forget. Rumor had it that every year some vengeful student would catch her alone in a hallway and send her flying down the stairwell, perhaps over a bad grade or an embarrassing classroom moment. No one really knew. Yet, you both survived the class and a friendship was born.
You try to reconcile the image of the freckled-faced 15 year-old in your head with the woman you just saw, the one with the lifeless eyes and the tubes covering her body. The one surrounded by bleeping machines. The girl who would slip you a note during class, asking for relationship advice. You can hear her voice admonishing you for some silly thing you said, her laughter ringing in your ears. It is clear as a bell. A faint smile forms at the corners of your mouth.
Sitting in a chair next to you is her ex-boyfriend, and your good friend of 15 years. He’s the one who called you as you dozed off after a night of good drinks and laughs with your sisters and their friends. When you heard his voice, you knew. This was it. Your husband breaks several speed limits getting you to the hospital before she’s taken off the ventilator. And here you are, staring at a window waiting for her to die.
You think about what you could’ve done. You think about all the time that passed, the distance that grew, the grudges that had been held for whatever reason. Your penchant for putting off things: homework assignments, people, household chores—had finally caught up with you. You wonder if she could hear you when you were at her bedside, thanking her for saving your life the day you decided to sneak out of Geometry with a bottle of allergy pills to end it all. Because you never said “Thank you.”
You have spent the 90 minutes drawing on faith you didn’t have in hopes of an eleventh-hour miracle. A miracle that would keep her here, where she is loved and needed. Here, where her teenage daughter is, where her daughter’s father is soaked in pain and regret. “We’re too young for this,” he says earlier, as the two of you are standing in the hallway listening to the faint ding of elevators. “We all grew up together, and now…now we’re here. I don’t understand.”
Neither do you. Still, you soldier on. You try to, at least.
You think about the dead hard drive you tried to resurrect earlier. It had crapped out when you attempted to finish the history paper due a few hours from now. You almost teared up when Brock, the furry kid at the Apple Genius Bar, told you that there was nothing more to be done; three years of documents and photos gone in an instant.
Seems pretty insignificant now, doesn’t it? Because you can toss a few hundred bucks at some specialist to recover your data. You can get those things back.
But there is no specialist for lost friendships.