On her wedding day, lo those many years ago, we silently drove to the hair salon. It was only her and I, a quiet time before all the chaos that even a small wedding can create.
The silence was weighted down with all the words left unspoken.
Are you sure? Is this making you happy? Is this what you want?
Even then her cell phone would ring constantly. He wanted reassurance that she would actually be there if he showed up. Years later, the constant cell phone ring would become a theme as she and I rode in a different car, in a different city, to a different salon for my wedding.
I joked with her at the salon. I took pictures of hair all up in tangles. I told her how beautiful she was.
When we got back in the car, the silence spoke volumes.
He had threatened once to kill me if I didn't stop calling her and if I didn't stop saying bad things about him. It wasn't a credible threat, as I lived a state away, but the words haunted my nightmares for months and months.
She stopped at a stop light. I can still see her face, so heart-stoppingly beautiful, as she turned to me.
She started with just a nickname only she can call me. "I know you think I'm beautiful and funny and wonderful, but not everyone does. Sometimes when he looks at me, I even think he loves me."
My heart broke right there.
"You are. You are beautiful. You are funny. You are my best friend. I love you no matter what."
I swallowed hard and told her a lie. "And of course he loves you. Who wouldn't?"
I knew that as I stood up there as her maid of honor, I would be wishing all the time that the marriage wasn't taking place.
It wasn't my finest hour. After the bride and groom left the building, I started taking out the presents to her car. Now their car, I guess. There was an awkward incident where I sobbed in the arms of a guy who once broke my heart, all while his new girlfriend stared at me. I drove her car to her mom and dad's house, silently went up to the guest room, and cried myself to sleep.
Manipulative. Abusive. Abrasive. Lazy.
He did manage to drive a wedge between us. For two months, we didn't talk. I cried. I wanted my best friend back. Oh, God, I'm crying now, just thinking about those two months.
I called her mom. I didn't know what else to do. We worked out a plan that we would not talk about him with her. If she brought it up, we would do what we could to comfort her, but we wouldn't bring it up. We just wanted her to talk to us again.
I'd try and call her in that ten minute span of time when she wasn't with him. It wasn't the same, but eventually the joking and the laughter came back. As long as he wasn't within earshot.
The baby was born. He is the best thing that man ever did.
She took baby steps towards regaining that independence. She set up an email account he didn't know about. We finally started communicating again in the way that best friends do.
And last weekend, she packed up the baby, a bag, and she left him. She left him.
That's not my story to tell, all the details, all the pain, all the decisions. But this is my story.
I can't be more excited to have my best friend back.