For My Friend, On Her AnniversaryWas thinking today about my best friend, Sushi. This is an important day for her.
We were in High School together. I don’t remember how we met, exactly, but she was hard not to notice. Standing over 6 feet tall, and built like a quarterback, Sushi struck a figure in the hallways at our school. I was always proud of her, beautiful, graceful, friendly…everyone loved her, as far as I could tell, but she was MY best friend, and that made me SOMEBODY. I was shy and quiet, but Sushi had so many friends, I often felt like they were mine too. Her favorite thing to do was to introduce me to someone and pressure me to sing to them, because she loved my voice, and thought of it an ice-breaker. As for me, I just did what she told me to do, since I figured she knew the ways.
We shared a locker at school…we had to, because of budgets – everyone had a locker mate. The big decision was always who would take the top, and who would take the bottom. That was never a question for us…being one of the smaller people on campus, it was a given – Sushi took the tallest part, and I took the shortest.
Somewhere in the middle of our Junior year, her brother and father both died, within months of each other. As devastating as that was for my friend, it was even more so for her mother. I watched, as Sushi sucked it up and learned how to care for her mother, in the aftermath that followed…depressions, suicide attempts, illness after illness. I was helpless. I loved my friend, but she was fading, becoming someone I almost didn't recognize. I would visit or call her every night and sing her to sleep after her mom had passed into a drug induced coma. It was not negotiable, she wanted that, needed it.
Toward the middle of the following year, things seemed to be getting back to the way I’d remembered…parties, friends, dances, laughter, study dates, dancing, sunshine. Sushi was back and I was so happy.
We graduated, of course, and when on about our lives. She had no musical talent, but made the best roadie…any band I was in, she was there, dancing, running lights, setting up and tearing down the stages.
She got married, had a beautiful daughter. We kept in touch all the while. I had a son, she got divorced and started a daycare, where I happily sent my boy while I worked, knowing he would be loved there. Both of us being single moms by then, we often introduced our discards to each other. We’d laugh about that… “If you didn't want him, why would I?”
Well, it came to pass, after a few years, Sushi got cancer. A nasty one, affecting her lymphatic system. The doctors did everything they could, but she couldn't be saved, so she was sent home to spend the last of her days.
I visited her, for the last time, just days before she stepped off the mortal coil. They warned me, she was unresponsive. But I wanted to sing to her anyway. Had to. So I did.
Sushi didn't move a single muscle, but tears slid down the side of her face. I wasn't the only one to see that, and it never happened again. Before I knew it, she was gone.
RIP, m'lady, 10 years ago today.
I’m lighting your candle and sharing that song.