It’s July 2021, and it has been more than a year since our lives were completely thrown off course by COVID-19. It’s kind of weird to think about all that has happened. How much loss has devastated our lives throughout the pandemic. We’ve missed out on work, school, weddings… and many have suffered even more loss and grief than that. In this period of great loss and grief, I’m trying to reflect on what I have learned and gained out of this crazy time. Strangely enough, I actually found something special that I had lost many years ago. So, here is the story of something lost and found, and of how COVID helped me rekindle my friendship with my best friend I had lost touch with many years ago.
When I was around thirteen years old, I lost something very important to me. I lost the friendship I had with my best friend.
Like a lot of teens, we were both going through A LOT of growing pains. And on top of that we were both learning to deal with some upsetting things we had each experienced growing up. Our story wasn’t anything unique or original – a lot of teens where we lived struggled with the same exact story. We lived in a rural state where mental health was (and very much still is) incredibly stigmatized. So we were just two more teens not getting the mental help we needed.
So, we took everything we were feeling out on each other. All of our anger, grief, confusion… etc. Then we had a BIG, nasty fight. A fight I regretted for the next thirteen years of my life… because before I had realized what had happened, she had moved and gone to a completely different school. And I never saw or spoke to her again. That is, until COVID-19.
During 2020, I got a message from her on social media, and I had to slap myself a little to make sure I wasn’t imagining it!
Starting in 4th grade she had been my very best friend, and I had missed her like crazy all these years. But the shame I felt for those horrid fights in junior high made me too scared to reach out. I had been such a bad friend, and I had so many regrets about how I had treated her. On top of that, I didn’t know her phone number, email, or any social media accounts under her name that I could find.
It was weird also because I was a completely different person from who I was the last time we had spoken. I had gone through thirteen years of experiences, challenges, and growth – on top of being a newly-wed living on the other side of the country! Initially, I was a scared to reopen that door into my previous life… What if I was reminded of the things I was dealing with at that time – things that weren’t her fault but that I had associated with those years we were so close? What if I was still a bad friend and I just let her down all over again?
And as it turned out, she and I had both been feeling the exact same way all these years!
Ever since she got the courage (that I never had) to reach out, my heart has had a little piece of it placed back into its little dedicated spot. Like a puzzle piece with her name and “bestie” written on it! So, we have been talked over phone, text, and ZOOM to make up for lost time. And every time we talk it’s just like how we used to be, but without the pain of being a teenager struggling to make sense of the world. Hours of giggling and laughing at our weird sense of humor. Making obscure references to our favorite shows and videos. Deep heartfelt talks about life.
Recently, I had to make a very short, not-so-expected trip back home to take care of some family matters.
While I was home, we made plans to finally see each other in person again. We were both vaccinated and had been careful about social distancing the entire pandemic, we felt safe to do so. We got to hug each other for the first time in THIRTEEN YEARS – AND IT WAS AWESOME! It was a hug that had been on hold for more than a decade and we probably kept hugging the entire evening. I lost count of the hugs, honestly.
We had our first slumber party in years, and we stayed up way past 3AM playing card games and chatting about life. It was like nothing had changed… and yet everything had changed – all in the best of ways. Not only that, but her brother – who was just a little kid the last time I had seen him – is all grown up now and is just as silly as she is! So not only did I get back one friend, but I made a new one, too!
It was really hard saying goodbye after seeing her again, but this time it isn’t a forever-kind-of-goodbye.
We already have plans for how we are going to celebrate our rekindled friendship in the near future. Like Dungeons and Dragons campaigns over ZOOM. Hopefully soon there will be a chance for her to come visit where I now live. I’m making a list of all the museums and parks to show her here, but I am most looking forward to those long talks and giggles until 3AM.
COVID-19 SERIOUSLY messed up everything. I think we can all agree on that.
And it’s really easy to focus on the things we have lost since March 2020. I’m definitely guilty of focusing more on the negative, even before a global pandemic. But finding that friendship I had lost so many years ago has really brightened up my world in the midst of all the chaos.