A couple of years ago I lost one of my best friends from school.
And not just school best friends. Her at my house the entire summer holiday best friends. First (and last, for over a decade) cigarette best friends. First time we got caught best friends. First time I had to call my mum to come get me because I thought I had vodka poisoning… that kind of best friend. The one you literally grow up with.
Here’s the thing, I knew she was unwell and had handwritten her a letter because that was our gig back in high school.
You remember the ones: folded up into such a tiny package the paper literally wouldn’t fold anymore. Silly code names. Love hearts and initials. ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ boxes. Our other friend Jo always drew a penis on everything.
Ahhhh, Private All Girls’ School memories.
This letter was still sitting on my desk on the day she passed because I’d been “too busy” to send it.
I don’t know whether I thought she’d be OK. Maybe I couldn’t really face one of my own would be mortal. We were still in our 30s. Very late 30s, but still. Our proper lives had just really begun.
It doesn’t really matter.
Because I didn’t send it.
Now, I am shit-house at scheduled gifts. I struggle with the pressure of choosing and getting the dates right and I never, ever remember a card. I have great ideas and I mean to do things with the best of intentions but my follow-through leaves a lot to be desired.
Even still, I was so angry with myself that day I hadn’t pulled up my socks and made it happen.
It was the first year of my business and I was hammered. Overwhelmed. Poor. So, so poor from years of single parenting and struggling and paying bills and then marrying someone who left everything to his ex-wife – which is one of the reasons I loved him and also made me want to strangle him a bit. It was tough.
Still, I didn’t send it.
And I missed out.
I missed her.
I let that letter sit there for over two years.
On my desk. I cleaned around it. I picked it up, read it, put it back.
I did it to remind me my competing priorities the day she died were skew whiff.
Because people are more important.
She was more important than all my excuses.
Life is long then also short and you can never guess which way it’ll be.
And since then, I haven’t gotten much better at dates. I still forget the card. Facebook friendships don’t help, I just have a panicked moment when I realise it’s someone’s birthday.
What I have gotten better at is giving gifts or sending a card at random, when I think about it, when I see something someone might love. I hope it takes them by surprise. I hope it means they feel loved. Beloved. Like she was to me. A beautiful thread throughout my young adult life.
This afternoon, just now, I scrolled past my friend’s name on Facebook.
I haven’t removed her account for the past 5 years because she literally stops me in my scrolling tracks to remind me to slow down, take notice, shuffle my priorities.
She was a beautiful, troubled, whip-clever soul who I got into all kinds of innocent mischief with back in the day but who always loved with her whole heart and every organ around it.
Sorry I missed you, Nic, I’m trying really hard not to let that kind of thing happen again.
I’m Jay Crisp Crow
and I started a life-revolution with a need to write things, $0 in the bank, a borrowed laptop, and a disability – all driven by a desire for the amplification of women’s voices
Now, I teach women all over the world to write what they mean, sell all their things, and know that balance is absolute and utter balderdash
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