On Death and Friendship
“It is the unknown we fear when we look upon death and darkness, nothing more.” ~Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince
The last couple weeks are kind of a blur.
I had several different topics I wanted to dive into. Some of them were timely, and I was hoping to write about them while they were still relevant…
Christmas, the incredibly frustrating debate in Washington over payroll tax cuts, ringing in 2012, a couple segments I saw on PBS Newshour that I thought were interesting….
But then my best friend’s dad died. And everything just kind of stopped.
When I say that Lindsey Jenkins is my best friend, most people can probably relate. Haven’t we all had a best friend at some point in our lives? Maybe even some of us have had more than one. For some people, a best friend might change often, from month to month or year to year. I’ve probably described other people in my life as best friends, but the truth is that no one has ever been a better friend than Lindsey.
There’s something about growing up with someone, about going through all the trials and tribulations that come with being a kid, pre-teen, teen, and then young adult. There’s something irreplacable and indescribably valuable about what I have with Lindsey, and it’s something I share with no one else in my life but her.
I met Lindsey when I was five years old. She moved into the house next door. My brother and I called it the “moving house” because everyone who moved there always left. Turns out it was a rental house where people often lived while building their permanent home elsewhere.
The day I met Lindsey, my younger brother Justin and I watched as the moving trucks pulled up. When we noticed toys being carried into the house we ran to our parents with the news that the new neighbors had kids. That afternoon my mom and I brought a plate of cookies over to welcome the family to the neighborhood.
Lindsey and I were pretty much inseparable from that point on. Turns out my new friend was also in my kindergarten class. We were in different first grade classrooms but then spent our elementary days connected at the hip. We were in the same 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th grade classes. We spent every weekend at each other’s houses, and even when Lindsey’s family moved from the moving house to their new subdivision, we stayed close.
Not only were Lindsey and I inseparable, but our families were too. Her younger brother was the same age as mine, and our parents about the same age as well. We went out to lunch every Sunday with the Jenkins and usually spent many other days during the week with them as well. We went on trips together and when Lindsey and I were in 3rd grade our families traveled to Disney World. I will never forget the argument Lindsey and I had while on the trip. We ended up yelling at each other over whose mother looked more like sleeping beauty. Clearly, it was a heated debate.
Lindsey was there for everything. We passed notes in school. We talked about our elementary school crushes. We bugged our parents to let us have sleepovers. We stayed up all night talking. She was the one friend I knew would always be loyal.
She was much more like a sister than a friend. I know this because I treated her like one. Lindsey probably knows more than anyone how grouchy I get when I haven’t had enough sleep.
During school if we were to choose partners, I never had to look around the room. I just looked at her. It wasn’t even a question that we would be each other’s number one pick. She was the first on my list of friends to invite to birthday parties, and usually after the other guests went home she stayed the night. If she was missing from school, either because she was sick or her family was traveling, I would miss her so much. I would draw her pictures during free time and leave them on her desk for her when she got back.
Our families just fit together, almost like we were just supposed to be one. Her house was as familiar as mine, and every member of her family was mine too.
As with any relationship spanning 17 years, we had our disagreements, and some years we grew apart. We found different hobbies and groups of friends in high school, and some weeks we didn’t talk at all, but always, always, I knew that she would be there. For anything.
For most of my teenage and college years, I spent much time and effort trying to find another friend like Lindsey…until I realized it was impossible. What Lindsey and I have is an incredibly rare and precious thing. It’s kind of like the love of your life….he/she only comes around once. When you find that person don’t let go.
Of all the things we have been through together, I never dreamed we would go through this. When she told me her dad was sick in May of 2010, I hugged her while she cried. I told her it would be all right, and I honestly believed, with every part of me, that it would be.
When I saw her the day after his death we held each other and cried. It breaks your heart because what can you do? Nothing. You can only be there.
I held her hand during the funeral, our fingers linked just like our hearts. The whole time my mind was blown with disbelief and sadness. How could this be real?
Something like this makes you question the big things. Religion, justice, God, right and wrong, fairness, and perhaps the most unsettling of all, why do bad things happen to good people?
These aren’t things anyone in their twenties should have to ponder, and because of this Lindsey shows maturity and wisdom far beyond her years.
I wrote this post because I needed to. Because writing is therapy. But I don’t have anything enlightening or insightful to say about such an untimely death. I’m not sure there are enough words in the dictionary right now to bring peace and closure, but maybe in time there will be.
For now all I can say is that best friend doesn’t even come close to describing it, and I am thankful that God, or the universe, or the spirit of humanity, or whatever you want to call it put Lindsey and her family in my life.
“To have been loved so deeply even though the person who loved us is gone will give us some protection forever.” ~Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
(Lindsey introduced me to Harry Potter in 4th grade. Not only is Dumbledore freaking awesome in general, but I found these two quotes of his very fitting for this topic.)