As a kid, I never imagined that my best friend today wouldn’t be my best friend tomorrow. We were five years old when me and my first bestie made the pact to write to each other every day when I moved away. We stayed in touch for quite a few years but there came a point where I didn’t know who I was. I couldn’t relate to her life of prom dresses and boyfriends in the midst of my daddy issues and underage drinking. We grew apart. I felt horrible and I didn’t understand why people couldn’t just love each other forever. Why did some people stay and others had to leave? It took a couple of decades and a broken heart for me to understand.
When I met Cathy, she was dealing with family issues that were creating a lot of heartache for her. We met at work and hit if off immediately. While I was visiting my parents one afternoon she called me sobbing and told me that she didn’t have anywhere to go. I wanted to help. I was married with two young kids and I approached my husband about having her stay with us. We were careful who our kids were around and didn’t make it a habit to let people crash on our couch. He hesitantly agreed and she came to stay with us for a couple of months. It was wonderful. She ate dinner with us, helped me with the kids, and we spent late nights talking and drinking beer on the porch. I hadn’t had a best friend since high school and it felt great to be close to a woman again. She spent time with my extended family and my cousin offered her a rental house close to work. My life revolved around making sure Cathy was okay. It became my full time job.
I quickly realized that her life was the polar opposite of mine. She was single and liked to date a lot of men. She had a natural sex appeal and it wasn’t unheard of for men to follow her out of stores and beg for her number. Her life allowed time to shop and hang out for coffee and I began spending less and less time at home. After work we would have a couple beers and talk for hours. She needed me. There were boys breaking her heart, her family didn’t accept her, and her own insecurities left her in deep depressions that seemed paralyzing. If I could just get her past this one last issue I believed that she could finally be happy. But there was always another problem and I was always the helicopter. My husband was begging for my attention and I was consumed by this relationship with Cathy. It began to feel like I had taken a very dangerous path away from my life and into the depths of hers.
After a couple of years, she was like family and we invited her on our annual vacation to Mexico. My mom happily covered the expense and we began counting down the days to our week in the sun. Life at work started to become severely unbalanced. Cathy either had an abundance of energy and worked at break neck speed or she couldn’t get out of bed for two days. She was borrowing a lot of money from me and I found myself lying to my husband about cash I didn’t have. Cathy began spending time with a new guy that she wouldn’t allow anyone to meet and when she wasn’t at work, she was with him. We went from spending every day together to only seeing each other if we had the same schedule at work. After a suspicious robbery at our store, I had alarms going off in my head. All the signs were there but I didn’t know what they meant.
After a long and painful conversation with my husband, I called Cathy one night after work. I had managed to gather up all my courage and broach a subject I knew nothing about. I asked her if she was on drugs. She denied it and promised that if there was a problem, I would be the first to know. I already knew. I had talked to her roommates and found out about bills she was in charge of that weren’t getting paid. She was fired from her job after video surveillance showed her and her boyfriend robbing the store. I told her that she wasn’t welcome on our family trip because I couldn’t allow her to be around my kids while she was making these types of decisions in her life. She was upset but we promised to talk again the next day and I felt that we would get through it. I would help her get treatment, I would fix this too. It didn’t take long to realize that there would be no fixing. She sent me a text message the next day calling me every disparaging name in the book. It was a long rant from a cocaine addict who was bent on breaking my heart in ways only a best friend could. She likened me to my biological dad who had abandoned me when I was young and turned my secrets into a lashing, the likes of which I had never experienced. I was devastated. I cried for days and knew it was the end. There was nothing I could say that would change the burned bridge behind us, so I never responded.
It has been three years since I lost my best friend. Here is what I have learned; there are people who will come into your life and stay only long enough to teach you the lessons that they are meant to teach. That relationship taught me that too often I try to fix people and it’s not my job. I learned that putting anyone else before my family is not my truth. I also learned that sometimes it’s better to let go and move on then to hold tight to someone who has already let go of you. For those lessons and more, I am forever grateful to Cathy.
Mandy has been married to her partner in crime for thirteen years and together they have two perfect kids. Ha!!! She writes a blog about her wacky perspective on life, has been a contributor for an online food magazine and is currently working on a book. When she isn’t reading, writing or entertaining small humans Mandy loves to cook, do yoga and travel. Follow her escapades on: