How I Learned To Live As I Was Grieving My Best Friend's Death

Photo: Courtesy of the Author
photo of author and best friend

When you have the chance to call someone your best friend (and have them call you that in return), that term takes on the form of something completely different than just a "friend". It rises to a whole other level. It's that "secret sauce" if you will, of what many of us look for throughout our lives. That indescribable connection that's made not through blood — but through choice. 

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Everyone should have the chance to have at least one best friend in their lifetime. You know ... that type of friend that knows you better than you know yourself.

That girl you can't freaking STAND because she drives you (literally) insane and you fight like crazy, and then you call her at midnight because you're feeling lonely and she says, "Yeah I know, I'm already halfway to your house. Oh, and I have vodka."

THAT friend. Your "sista from anotha mista" as I like to say. 

That person to me was Tracy.

We hated each other at first. A loud, PROUD, super-extrovert, she never knew when to shut up. And — I don't really remember how — we bonded and were inseparable (with some bumps and fights along the way) from 9th grade through college, our kids, our marriages, and her divorce.

We were bonded at the hip. We lived next to each other on multiple occasions. We were each other's "wingmen", got each other in trouble almost constantly. Snuck out of the house. Prank called our friends. Gossiped like crazy. Fought like hell.

Two years ago, she convinced me to "prep" for our ten-year (ouch) high school reunion, so for a full six months straight we met up at 5 AM every morning to work out together. 

On a rainy day in September, I called Tracy on my way home from the gym to yell (not really) at her for not coming. She had been car shopping with her boyfriend out of town and had been sending me texts all day with pictures asking me which she should get. She was leaning toward the Camaro. Figures.

She laughed, ignored me (as usual. LOL), and proceeded to talk about our planned girls' night in a few hours...and then they hydroplaned off the highway, hit a pole and then a tree, and she died

It happened in about 7 seconds. I remember counting.

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You see, I don't mean to turn this into a weepy pity party. Really, that's never what this has been to me. No.

Instead, I wanted to say that you NEVER know when it's going to be the last time.

You never know if that party you're at is the last time you'll swim in the pool together. You don't know if that's the last invite to Red Robin you'll ever hear from her (and decline). 

You'll never know if that Trapt concert is the last concert you'll ever attend with her. You'll never know that the festival you both bought tickets to would be one you'd be going to without her  wearing the bracelet she and you made together the month before in dedication to her around your wrist.

You'll never know if it's the last time your friend will kiss your cheek or yell at you over the phone for something really, really stupid. 

One thing I learned when Tracy died — and really, to me this lesson came instantly and hit me like a ton of bricks — is to LIVE your freaking LIFE

Stop making excuses for why you're not happy. Stop avoiding your friend or your family because they said or did something dumb. Stop acting like you have all the time in the world. Because you really, really don't.

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So in case, you are going through what I went through — and sadly, at some point, everyone will — here is a collection of some of the quotes that helped me cope with the death of my best friend in the entire world. The girl I never, EVER thought I'd actually have to live without. 

And remember to hug your best friend. Because they really are once in a lifetime.

Kayla Cavanagh is an editor and writer for Yourtango.com