January 9, 2012 at 8:55 AMKatie McGarry

Book I'm currently reading: Finishing Saving June by Hannah Harrington

 This morning's running conditions: 36 degrees and cloudy

 Song I placed on repeat while running:Don't Take the Girl by Tim McGraw

Why I love the song: It was one of Tiffany's favorites.

I love the lyrics: Take the very breath you gave me. Take the heart from my chest. I'll gladly take her place if you'll let me. Make this my last request. Take me out of this world. God, please don't take the girl.

She died fifteen years ago today.

 It’s hard to write about it. Ironic, I guess, since I’m a writer. Words, in theory, should come easy for me. But nothing about this is easy. It never has been. I doubt it ever will be.

I’d always known her. Her grandmother lived up the street from my house and the two of us played. We were in class together for as long as I can remember. In seventh grade, a girl asked if we were best friends. We looked at each other, smiled, and said yes.

In seventh grade those types of words are binding.

As I type, my heart is dying. How can I describe this overwhelming sense of loss? This black hole in my heart that was created the moment I received the phone call that started it all. I don’t really remember how I was told. I just remember his voice. The sadness in his tone. The lack of hope and the words: I’m coming to get you.

I held the receiver in my hand for a long period of time, knowing he was no longer on the other end. That he’d already climbed into his truck and was on his way to find me. My mouth was hanging open for so long that it had become dry.

I never blinked and stood completely still. Every few seconds, I reminded myself to breathe. She was only in the hospital again. We’d been down this road before. But somehow I knew. I think we all knew and that made it all the more heart breaking.

Fifteen years later, I wish I could tell you that I was the picture perfect best friend holding her hand in death. To my regret, I wasn’t. The moment the elevator doors opened to the ICU unit, my world became a clouded maze.

People talked to me, but I never understood what they said, because their words were always wrong. They spoke lies as far as I was concerned. I didn’t care about oxygen levels and medically induced comas and failures. I didn’t care about test results and specialists and the prayer group being formed. I cared that deep down inside she was coherent and hearing all of it. So instead of saying goodbye, I told her I’d be back the next day. I told her that I would bring a book to read aloud.

To this day I regret I never said goodbye. I regret that I walked out of that hospital so pissed off at everyone who was giving up on her, because, dammit, I knew her and she wouldn’t give up. She wouldn’t leave.

But she did.

She died.

And part of me died along with her.

It’s fifteen years later and I still dream of her, think of her, and I cry.

Some people don’t believe in an afterlife. I believe. There are times that I feel her spirit surrounding me. She’d be happy for me: for the choices I’ve made, for the family I’ve created, for the fact that I found happiness.

Life goes on. She would have wanted me to live it.

I’m living Tiffany. We made promises years upon years ago. You held up your end. I’m still upholding mine. Someday, we’ll smile at each other again.

TTFN. LYLAS. Best Friends Forever.

I love you,


P.S. The character Lila is named for you via LYLAS. I thought it fitting for the best friend.

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Comments (2) -

United States Leslie Lynch says:

Katie, dear heart, 'Good-bye' is not what matters. 'I love you' is what matters. I KNOW you said that to Tiffany - many times and in many ways, including words. You've carried the regrets long enough. Since you believe in an afterlife and you've felt her spirit surrounding you, you must know she's no longer concerned with whether or not you said good-bye or came back the next day with a book. You can forgive yourself. Tiffany has. Grief is hard enough; you don't need to add guilt to the mix (regrets are a close relative).

My heart breaks and I cry with you.  Even though I never met her, I feel like I have gotten to know her through the years.  Thank you for sharing and passing on the joys and tears...I love you!

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