To My Best Friend Who Moved Away: I Love You Differently Now

Photo: Elizabeth Broadbent
best friend
Heartbreak, Love

Life flowed on without you. That might be the hardest part.

Dear Friend,

I miss you like a toothache, like a constant pain. You're my BFF  you don't cede the title because you pack up and haul yourself to the boondocks of the Florida Panhandle. Best Friend Forever means distance doesn't count. So I still love you; don't worry about that. But I still lost you.

I love you differently now. Before, I saw you almost every day. Our kids played together. I knew what you were cooking for dinner and you knew how much laundry I had left to fold. I cleaned your bathroom. You did my dishes. When you had hyperemesis gravidarum and could hardly stand, I gave you shot because your husband was out of town and I was the one you trusted to stab you.

Before you moved, our lives folded into each other. I drove to your house on autopilot. Now? Well, now is different.

You light up my phone with text messages about the kids, about your day, about how lonely you are. We Facebook message each other sometimes and talk in comment sections of our children's pictures. Sometimes we share "Facebook memories" of our friendship with the two of us in them, and my chest tightens with loss.

You've come to visit twice. The first time, we had dinner at a Chinese place on the edge of the city and talked about mutual friends: Who was pregnant, who was trying, who was depressed and who was hiding it.

The second time, you brought the kids. My sons went wild with joy. And when, in the parking lot of a barbecue restaurant, we said goodbye, they didn't understand.

"Aren't they coming to Target with us?" my four-year-old asked.

"No, baby," I said. "They're going back to Florida." He sobbed himself to sleep that night.

I miss you horribly. But I miss so much more than just you. I miss what you meant to us.

When I decided briefly to change my name to Octavia, you didn't laugh, but you did talk me down to Benna. You never told me it was a stupid idea that wouldn't work. Whenever I had a psychiatric appointment, you watched my kids, no questions asked. And then afterward, we compared therapists. You never judged me for that.

You lent me so many diapers. You bought me Jamaican food. When I was two days away from entering the mental hospital (the day program, of course), you let me come over and sleep in your bed.

My kids played. You never complained about the mess they made or that you had to make them lunch or that I rambled about medication side effects before I passed out. You always had play dates at your place and never minded when my kid bashed yours over the head.

You aren't here for these things anymore. And there's an absence there, a BFF-shaped hole. I have to scramble for babysitting. There's no one to call when we don't feel like cooking. I still get down sometimes, and I know I should text. But frankly, I don't think to do it.

That's hard, really, this not thinking. You don't come to mind like you used to. I get wrapped up in educating kids, feeding them, writing and cleaning, and loving my husband. I'm busy. You're busy, too, with your husband working crazy hours, and you handling kindergarten and carpools and cooking.

As we both get busy, we just sort of drift. We don't think of each other as often because we don't need each other the way we used to. Or we do need each other, but we're nine hours away by car. Motherhood is survival mode. We've only got brain space for the here and now.

We cried and cried when you moved. I cried all the way home from that crappy restaurant where we held your goodbye party, and not because the kids rioted over the slow service. And then, life moved on. There were play dates and brunches. We drank mimosas or didn't drink them, and the kids climbed up the deck rails or didn't climb them.

I wrote. Friends had babies. We threw birthday parties and read new books and binge-watched Fringe for the third time. And you weren't there to talk about it, to see it, to be there for it.

Life flowed on without you. That might be the hardest part.

Kids grow taller, cut each other's hair. I henna myself. You're not there to do it for me because my life kept going without you. You're still a part of it but a mental part, an electronic part. You aren't your flesh and blood, not your soup on a cold afternoon. Our kids aren't in the tub making a mess of the whole bathroom. My heart hurts.

You'll come to visit, of course. And we'll catch up. We'll smother each other in hugs. But until then, our lives flow apart. We know this. And being BFFs means admitting it to ourselves. It hurts. But we can face it the way we've faced everything: together.


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