After Brynne passed, a friend sent me the above note. It was absolutely painful in it’s accuracy, simplicity and brutal honesty then and still remains to be today. After a while, the morning sadness became a part of my morning routine – protein shake, feed the dogs, drive to work and cry. Today, the dream aspect is truer than ever. I dream of stories I wish I knew and I dream of my best friend. In dwelling on the bizarrely painful fact that it has been two years that I’ve been living with this black tumor of grief, I couldn’t help but realize how odd it is that humans can live through this type of internal suffering. And I couldn’t help but be thankful that in both her life and her death, Brynne taught me the full capabilities of my body.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll probably say it every year on this horrible day: I’ll never in my life have another friend like Brynne. And honestly, that makes me feel so cheated for her and selfishly, for me. She never got to see how big Sia became (she’d hate it). She doesn’t get to meet my son and that hurts. She doesn’t get to be that person that she was for me, which was everything, that friend that just is always there the second you need them.
I always think about taking this day off of work, but then it’d be the 21st of September and her birthday and my birthday and every single day that I dream about her and to be honest, they’re never the best dreams. They always end with me brutally realizing she isn’t here anymore and while I’m left with the distinct, amazing feeling that she was 100% momentarily present, it hurts more when I wake up. If I fell apart whenever I feel like I may, I’d never go to work and I wouldn’t be a functioning person and we all know that isn’t what she would want.
In this pain comes the one beautiful thing Brynne continues to teach me. I now know how strong the human body truly is. The fact that I get up and function every single day and carry on with my life despite this pain that never actually goes away is beautiful, in the most deranged way, but it is.
But, it doesn’t change the fact that it is 2015 and she isn’t here. Last year on this day I had spent months poring over something to write. This year was easier. That first year, I wanted whatever I crafted to be positive. I didn’t want to aggravate the wound so gravely deep that still existed, so red, so raw in it’s nature. But another year has taught me something: that wound will forever exist. We can cover it up with our day-to-day activities and our minute precautions but it is never actually going away. I will always have to mutter the phrase, “when my best friend passed away,” and feel that boulder sized rock in my throat. I will always reach out to text her, throughout every single week when anything that reminds me of our childhood, of our unique views on the world appears. And, I’ll always realize I can’t. It isn’t going anywhere and if I honor her by writing positive bullshit I may or may not believe, or write about the agonizing reality that is her being gone,it doesn’t change the reality. It doesn’t make any of it any easier.
The truth is, Brynne taught me how strong I am by pushing me to be the most authentic version of myself. A quality bizarrely not childlike that she possessed since the day we met at the bus stop in 4th grade, Brynne was always authentically her. As I contemplate names for the baby rapidly taking over my body and I think of the Jewish tradition of naming a child in honor of someone who passed, in hopes that they will embody their spirit, I know that I truly hope that our son get’s a bit of that chutzpah. I want him to be courageous and unapologetic like Brynne. And stubborn and self-assured that their way is the right way. When so many people struggle to even stand behind their beliefs, in a world where so many people crumble to pressure, Brynne was 100% the opposite of that. And I hope that our son gets just a modicum of that too.
This weekend I bought, painted and assembled a desk to surprise Craig with a new pseudo home office. A task I’d grade moderate for my normal “skilled” self, but at 6 months pregnant, it was beyond a feat. I found myself worrying about who to call should I need help. My brothers were out of town, most of my best friends live out of state or work weekends – the only person who I would’ve truly, really been comfortable calling, not worrying about bugging them, who I knew would have dropped everything and came by in the spirit of a surprise new office, an act of love, in 5 seconds flat, was Brynne. Reminders like this happen constantly, but it still felt so unfair. I needed a best friend and she couldn’t be here. And not for lack of want or desire or longing, on either of our parts.
I dreamt of her all that night. The next morning when I was outside painting, concentrating on not inhaling chemicals, an orange butterfly appeared and danced in front of me for 30 seconds. Since B’s passing, I have become oddly accustomed to the proliferation of butterflies following me around, but I hadn’t seen one all summer. It was perfect and as always, I had no doubt it was her. I questioned for a moment, why the butterfly was what she choose, but then through this beautiful insect’s movements, I saw the similarities. Butterflies embody all the things Brynne had always desired – a lackadaisical free-spirit, fluttering through life without being tied down or compelled to anything beyond her own happiness and the happiness of those she loves. As always, I said, “Hi Brynne,” and felt that familiar pang of reassurance to carry on.
Tonight when I dream of her, I know I’ll hear her voice and see that smile, see the unique way her hands moved and the frizzy layers of her ever-changing hair. Missing her essence, her personality, her friendship – that will never go away, but all I can do is assume it is a testament to my strength, our strength as humans, that the grieving process allows me to long for and survive those moments when I still hear her and feel her. And to cherish that in those moments, it’s almost as if nothing changed.