This weekend I lost a very close friend of mine. She was sick her entire life and these past couple of months were especially difficult, so I'm not surprised by her death. Still, I can't quite believe that she's no longer in this world.
She and I met about 15 years ago through a mutual friend. It took us a while to grow close because she was very quiet and often kept to herself, but once I did get to know her, I quickly learned what a strong and brave woman she was.
She suffered from constant pain and endured frequent hospital visits/surgeries, but rarely complained and did as much as she was capable of doing. I was often surprised by just how much she could do -- such as when she joined me for a four-mile walk around Central Park. She was tiny; maybe weighed 80 pounds at most, but she had nerves of steel.
Though she had many problems of her own, she almost never asked for help. The last thing she ever wanted to be was a burden. I used to get annoyed with her because she'd constantly apologize for everything, say, "I'm sorry" all of the time. But she just wanted the people around her to be happy and to be the best friend possible.
When it came to her friends, she went out of her way for us. If you were performing in a concert, she was there. If it was your birthday, she'd celebrate with you. The only times she missed out was when she wasn't feeling well enough. When I broke my leg, I was being a big baby about needing surgery so she schlepped out from Brooklyn to Long Island to be there for at the hospital. When my grandmother was on her death bed, my friend accompanied me to see her and managed to coax a smile and coherent conversation out of my grandma. This was the last time I saw my grandmother, so I think of this as a gift from my friend.
As for my writing, my friend was always very encouraging of my work. She's the one who told me that my style reminded her of Ned Vizzini's. She always cheered me on and I greatly appreciate that.
My friend liked to write, too, but I unfortunately never got a chance to read her work. I was always asking to take a look and offered to help edit it, but she was shy about sharing her words. I wish I'd had the chance, not because I'm nosy, but because it would have allowed me to get inside her head. As close as we were, it was difficult to fully understand what she was dealing with -- though I always tried and was as supportive as possible.
I'm angry that she was taken from me at such a young age, but am grateful that I got to have her in my life for as long as I did. I'm going to miss her, but will always remember her kindness, bravery and loving spirit.