Megan was a friend of mine. She was always surrounded by people who were only too glad to shower on her the attention she demanded. She shamelessly pouted, smiled and sulked her way into every person’s consciousness. And as soon as the object of her attention surrendered to her charms, she grinned at the mission accomplished. I always assumed that we were too old for “best friend” nomenclature. I found that it limited me. I felt threatened by its meaning on my life. But she said it out loud. She made no bones about being my friend, about holding me above and beyond any other friend. She proved it often enough too.
I always thought I was immune to her moves, indulgent of her need for attention and love, gladly giving her both, but knowing somewhere that she wouldn’t get to me. And then she died.
For the record, there’s nothing like death to lend some perspective on your own life. It’s not always a great perspective. You see, i find myself hating her and the cheap trick she pulled with her death. Because more than anything, i realise that over the last decade that i spent with her, she had somehow managed to get under my skin.
At first, not knowing what my anger was about, i directed it straight at her family. They made a decision to pull her off life support, and i hung all my indignation on the fact that they hadn’t consulted with her... that no one knew whether she was ready to go, regardless of how correct the decision was, how hopeless the medical situation had become. In her death, as in her life, control had been wrested from her.
Yesterday, i visited her family. I was there with friends , most of whom i’d made because of her. Her family welcomed me as one of their own. We held each other like lost souls clinging to each other to provide a life raft for all of us. And i realised that they didn’t deserve my anger, indeed that my anger had never been about them at all. The first clue i had of this was when, at the memorial service, i found i couldn’t even look at her photograph, her smiling face, her happy expression. Because i found that i was angry – not with her family, not with “God”... but with her. I hated her.
A decade ago, she found me at a time when i was young, strong, attractive, healthy. Sure, I had a family that hadn’t seen or communicated with each other for years, i’d never had a boyfriend, had a bad self-image and was determined to hurt and break as many things as i could on my way to growing out of my cage of self-loathing. I didn’t need anyone or anything, had no intention of picking up lost strays, least of all someone who laid claim to my friendship as if it was hers. And yet, there she was, depite everything.
Sitting at her memorial, while a ridiculous hymn went on in the background, I finally saw the truth of something - she saw the best in me. She was in my corner regardless of anything that happened. She believed in my nobility, in my honesty, in my strength and vulnerability. She was the only person in my life, who had met my entire dysfunctional family (step-family included), even though the dysfunctional family itself hadn’t met each other. She knew all my boyfriends, knew what i felt about them, knew why i had hurt them, and hated them for hurting me. Everyone knows that you can’t tell your parents everything, and that you can’t tell your friends somethings either. There are times when your family can really get you down, there are times when your friends shun you... Through all those times, she was there, telling me that she loved me, will always love me, will always believe in my heart, in my goodness. She somehow connected all the disconnected parts of my world. At a time when i functioned from the belief that nothing lasts, she earned my trust, one molecule at a time, until i came to believe that she would always be there... that she would always last.
And now she’s gone. I never asked to depend on her. I didn’t need her. She forced me to care, she forced me to open up my life and include her in it... Only to take off herself. She saw me at my best and believed in it, more than me. And now i hate her, because with her gone, and all my very specific history with her erased, no one else will know the minutiae of me again... or believe that i used to be unscarred, or know the story behind each of those scars and still believe that i deserve and am able to be loved and cherished... She spoiled me. I hate her for that.