Bittersweet October


It’s October again, which is always a very bittersweet time of year for our family. You see, it was 9 years ago this month that my best friend died from her battle with breast cancer. There is not a day that goes by when I don’t think about her, or think about all the things she’s missed in the past 9 years. Yes, the pain is manageable now. Some of the memories are gone, but most have remained. I can still hear the sound of her laughter in my head. I hope that never goes away.

In the years since we lost her, many things have changed. Her two kids and my daughter have all graduated from high school. My son was the only one she did see graduate. I’ll forever feel blessed he has those memories of her.

Both of our daughters have graduated from college, and both are in pursuit of their masters. Her son is in college as well, and my son has gotten married. Her son is the only kiddo who has stayed in the area. Her daughter lives across the US now, and my kids are about two hours away.

Her hubby – still one of the best guys I know – has moved on too. He’s had a girlfriend for a few years now, and recently they bought a house together. He’s happy, which he deserves. We’re happy for him. Life does go on, and even though I initially refused to believe that, over time it has. It must.

About a year or so after she died, I was walking on the treadmill, listening to a song by Iron & Wine, “Each Coming Night”. I don’t know what it was about that song, but it – as well as my inability to grasp the reality of losing my friend - inspired my first novel, “Losing Faith”. The book told the story of Grace (who was based on what I experienced going through my friend's illness and death), who lost her best friend Faith to breast cancer. Although it is a work of fiction, that book was the only way I could get my feelings down on paper, and in turn pay tribute to my friend. Sure, it’s a love story with beautiful people and hot sex scenes. But beyond that is the heart of the story….a story about friendship. A story about loss. A story about life.

Since publishing that book, I’ve published 6 other books. Yes, the work in my first book is flawed and yes, it will never be my best work. But it’s probably the most honest work I’ve put out to date. “Losing Faith” will always be my baby, and my friend shines brightly from many of the pages and words inside the cover. Her death pushed me forward into taking a chance on myself and on my work, and yet I’d trade it all to have her back, even for one day.

I have some wonderful memories of my time with my friend. Most are before she was sick, but there are many that took place during her struggle. Yes, caring for her was a pain unlike any I’ve ever felt before, but I am forever blessed to have been there for her. I’m honored to have known her and am so very, very grateful that her last words to me were “I love you”.

-AJ

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