by S.L. Grant
Dealing with the loss of my best friend, and sister due to suicide.
Leads Me Back to Her
My best friend saved my life. Not in the way you may be thinking. She didn’t run into a burning building and pull my lifeless body out. Or jump into the raging sea and pump water from my lungs and save me from drowning. No, she saved my life in a different way. When my best friend died, she saved my life. Sounds weird, right? She left this world, and saved my life. It sounds a bit morbid. But it’s the truth.
The afternoon I got the phone call that my sister and best friend had died. My life forever changed. My life stopped spinning. Everything began moving in slow motion. Nothing made sense anymore. My reach of comprehension of life’s secrets did not span that far. It was like my life suddenly turned into a movie. And what was playing out before me was not my life, but someone else’s. “This couldn’t be my life” I thought. “My God would never allow something so horrific to happen to me” I said to myself as my husband and I drove the 100 miles to my best friend’s house. The whole way there I cried out to my God. I prayed that the phone calls I had received only minutes prior were untrue. I prayed once we got to her house that I would be able to prove all of them wrong. That my best friend would answer her door with a smile on her face, and tell me it was all a bad joke. But it was never going to be that simple. Instead of being greeted by her laughter when I got to her front door, I was greeted by silence, and her ever presence in that house was all but gone. The beautiful light that she always carried with her had been snuffed out and turned into a looming darkness. I instantly fell to my knees and began crying. My heart was shattered into so many different pieces I was not sure I would ever be able to find all of them again.
When you lose somebody close to you, it’s always a hard pill to swallow, but when you lose somebody the way that we all lost my best friend nothing in life makes sense anymore. The answers you thought you knew about life all goes out the door. It leaves you with questions that are virtually impossible to answer. It leaves you with a massive hole in your heart. Emptiness that you are sure will never be filled again.
The days preceding her funeral, I was stuck. I was going through the motions of life, but I was never truly there. My heart and mind were still at her funeral, peering over her casket. Looking her over making sure it was truly her and not some body double, as tears fell from my cheeks and onto her shirt. My heart was stuck with the last conversation I had with her. But this conversation was a one way conversation. As she lay in her resting place. I cried out to her and God. Asking her why she had to leave us. I told her I would never be able to make sense of this situation. I told her I would never forgive her for the decisions she made. But I would always love her, and especially now “I’ll love you tomorrow” I said to her. It’s only been two and a half months since my best friend left this world. Every single day she is on my mind. I am beginning to think I need a bracelet that reads “What would Lani do” as I ask myself that exact question every day.
When I first met lani, she was just some weird, loud, obnoxious girl that I met at a mutual friend’s house one night. She set on my lap and ate my pizza. Not knowing me from another stranger on the street. And then again, we met at a car wash a few days after the pizza incident. And she invited me to go hang out with her. At the first invitation I still was not sure about this loud mouthed island girl. But I accepted anyway and from that night forward we were practically inseparable. I would like to say I took her under my wing. But it wasn’t that way at all. Lani instantly took me under her wing. I never really looked closely at the things she had taught me throughout the time we knew eachother, until she was no longer here. I’ve realized that this crazy girl had been teaching me about life since the first time I met her, and she’s still teaching me about life even after she’s gone. She’s been breathing life into me since the first time I met her. And for all of that I know that it was fate that brought us together, it was a friendship I truly believed was created long before we ever met. During my grieving process, it was like a light bulb switched on in my head. And I smiled for the first time in weeks, when I realized that my best friend was still saving me, even though she no longer walked this earth.
Lani and I had been close for almost 10 years right before she passed away. The way she left this world was heart breaking. I carried a lot of that burden on my own shoulders. Because what made our friendship so special was that we could be in the same room and not have to say a word to one another and already know what each other was thinking. If there was something bothering one or the other there were no words that had to be said. Because I knew that Lani would know. And the same went for her. I always knew that something was wrong without her ever even having to utter a word, but after she was gone. I realized that our bullet proof friendship was lacking. She made me realize that we all have more layers than the eye can see. And I missed something along the way. For a long time I blamed myself. But one day I woke and realized I hadn’t missed anything. She just didn’t want me to see it. So she carefully and methodically hid it from me. I truly believe that’s why I didn’t hear from her the day she passed away. Because she knew I would sense something was wrong. She taught me a valuable lesson here. That we are all walking through this life suffering silently, fighting our own battles within our own minds. And most times nobody else knows about the battle that is going on from within. Lani and I were closer than I have ever been with anybody else in my life. But the secret is that we had both been suffering silently. We were both fighting the same exact battle. But neither one of us wanted to share it with the other. For whatever reason, I am not sure of now. I can only wish I was brave enough to tell her, because if I had. She would have known that she wasn’t fighting her battle alone. That even I was fighting a daily battle. The battle of “Was this life truly worth it?” The one that tore holes in my heart every single day and every single night that screamed at me and said I wasn’t good enough, the battle that told me that if something were to ever happen to my marriage, I would be nothing on my own. The daily struggle that made me feel horrible about myself. Was I a good enough parent to my son? And then my mind answered that nagging question and screamed at me and told me NO.
It was that ticking clock on my life constantly telling me that I was only getting older, and that all I had become was a stay at home mom. Because in this day in age, our society now makes stay at home moms feel like they are worthless. And staying home raising your children just isn’t good enough. It makes you feel like just raising children isn’t truly giving back to the society. You see, my best friend and I were both thinking the same things. We just kept it to ourselves. There were times in my life that I thought that everyone else around me would be better off without me. I thought that my son would even be better off without me. Lani taught me that everyone is fighting the exact same battle, most times than not. That doesn’t make you a bad person. It’s what makes us human. Suffering silently is the most deadly weapon that the devil has against us. He tells us that this world doesn’t need us or want us. It makes us feel locked within our own minds. He tells us that no matter what we do or how hard we try we will never be good enough. He makes us feel that no one else could help us, or save us. Not even our Savior. So we stay locked in our own thoughts, until one day we lose that fight, And because my best friend lost her battle. I will never suffer silently again. I will always keep fighting, for her. Because I know she wishes that she could have held on a little bit longer. She had no idea how badly we all needed her here, because the negative voices in HER head screamed too loudly for her to hear anything else, or anyone else. This is just one of the many lessons that my sister taught me. But this is one of the most important. I will look at this life differently now. I know now that everyone is fighting a battle. Even the ones that look like they have everything together, you know the ones. The ones that smile, and laugh every single day, but behind closed doors it could be a different story. Everyone has painful story. It’s up to all of us to stay vigilant, and to stay mindful of that.
Lani taught me that life is beautiful, bright, and that life should be full of laughter and most times that laughter is filled with inside jokes and learning to laugh at yourself. She also taught me that life is often times tragic, and ugly and hard. But it’s about finding those people that are willing to walk down those hard and tragic paths with you. It’s about the people who are willing to not only walk beside you in those beautiful moments, but the ones that see the bad and the ugly and choose to stay anyway. The ones that choose to stay anyway, and hold your hand while you walk that path with all the ugly. Knowing they can’t promise that everything will be ok, but even if it isn’t going to be ok. They’re still going to be there, loving you through it.
My best friend taught me that even when everyone else believes that you can’t do something, DO IT ANYWAY, because well, there’s no better feeling than proving people wrong. She taught me that no matter your ailment, the perfect cure for everything, (and I mean everything) is a good rub down of Vicks vapor rub, and a huge cup of coffee.
She taught me how to be a friend, and how to love. When you love somebody you love them endlessly, you love them hard. It’s the type of love that you would lay down your life for the other person. And that didn’t matter if it was your family or close friend or spouse. To her, it was all the same. There was no line crossed segregating the connection between friend and family. Love is sacrifice, love is hard work. Love often times hurts and it’s tragic. But it is the most beautiful, privilege we are allowed. And my best friend taught me the meaning of that. She would have done anything for our friendship and the people she loved. Many times I watched her put her whole heart into a relationship, never wanting to give up. Because you never give up on the ones you love, no matter how impossible it may have seemed.
My best friend taught me many, many times that driving fast can be fun, and breaking the rules in life is sometimes a necessity. She was always teaching me something, whether it was about the newest life hack, or the fact that I needed to change my oil in my car more than once every couple of years, or how to get my son to sleep after being up all night with a tummy ache. The amount of sarcasm that poured off of her on a daily bases made life fun, and interesting.
When she first passed away, I was crushed. Because I knew I would miss our daily conversations, I would miss looking up to her and learning from her and that I would never have a friendship like her and I had again. But I know that a little bit of all of her lessons are left with everyone she has ever come into contact with throughout her life. One thing I have realized since her passing is that I once thought that only her family, children, and me thought that she was a gift that could never be replaced. But I have spoken to so many of her friends that I had never gotten the privilege of meeting before she passed. They all have told me a similar story about her presence in their life. Most of which, are stories about how Lani saved their marriage in one form or the other. How their children wouldn’t have been conceived if she hadn’t played match maker and helped somebody else’s relationship mend. Lani was a “fixer” She saw a problem, and she instantly began thinking of solutions to fix the issue at hand. She was that person for everyone she ever met. She knew no strangers in her life. She was a beautiful soul that has been taken from this earth much too early. A light dimmed too soon. But I know she is here still, watching and waiting. I feel her around us every day. I see her in her children’s eyes, I hear her in her families laughter and endless parade of sarcasm and jokes.
My best friend saved my life the day she left this earth. I will never take life for granted again. I have learned to hold my family closer, give my child more kisses and hugs, to love harder, and laugh more often. Life is never guaranteed. So live that way. I am truly blessed that I had her in my life as long as I had. 10 years was much too short, but no amount of time with her beautiful soul would have ever been enough. I will continue to go through this life, using the lessons my she taught me over and over again. Until one day, when my road ends, and my life path finally leads me back to her again.