BFF is a modern abbreviation which clearly shows that people still want to be Best Friends Forever. Indeed, if we are lucky enough to find a good friend, or if they are lucky enough to find us early in life, we may feel blessed if the friendship continues through the years. Friends are the people with whom we can share our joys and sorrows; we do not envy them and they never judge us either. We can allow ourselves the luxury of meeting a good friend with neither of us paying much thought to the way we look, or ask their opinion about a new look and trust that we tell each other the truth – more or less. We age together but never count the wrinkles and lines, the graying hair or the “all natural” color from a bottle. We understand the health problems which crop up with age, discuss our kids uninhibitedly, share all kinds of mundane events and agree to disagree. Above all we have the capacity to feel happy for our friend’s good luck or achievement, and we always have a kind word for each other.
We have been friends with Mary since our first day at university. We sat together at all our lectures and seminars, did our homework together, went to exhibitions and concerts, had sleepovers and discussed boys ad infinitum. When we received our monthly scholarship money we invariably went to an ice-cream café and ate our fill talking non-stop. She got married at an early age, rather to my surprise. First she told me that she met a young guy at a party and they spent a night together; then in a couple months time I received an invitation to a lavish wedding; and very soon she gave birth to a daughter. Well, these things happen. I became the child’s godmother and de facto aunt, in the absence of any other relations. Some years later, when I was also married with children, we met for our habitual sit-together, and she poured out her troubles. It turned out that her husband has been cheating on her since day 1, maintaining that she “made him” marry her because of the pregnancy. I commiserated – and suddenly she lashed out at me saying unforgivable, unforgettable things about my family. It felt as if a limb was hacked off from me… We kept up civil appearances for a few years but the friendship was gone. And then she died from an early onset of Alzheimer’s.
Recently her daughter, my god-daughter, asked me for a meeting with her and her daughter, aged 11. The girl, she explained, began to ask questions about her grandmother whom she had never met. And I was the one person remaining who had known her as a young girl, before the disease and untimely demise. I looked at the earnest childish face, and at the hopeful young woman’s face, both waiting for me to tell them something. I cast my mind back to our youth and started talking, remembering every funny episode, every nice event, every prank we played, every trip we took. I told them about the ice-cream, the tears about young men, the long lines waiting to see an exhibit, the exams and sleepovers. I recollected the joy I felt when I first saw my tiny god-daughter and the play-dates we arranged when I had my kids. The young mother was smiling happily, and I realized that actually she never knew her mother as a young carefree girl either. The little girl was smiling broadly, giggled and asked questions, gasped at some of the more audacious pranks we played, and listened spellbound to the stories of our trips. I could see that her long-gone grandma became a real person for her; she obviously projected my persona on some inner image – and liked the result.
No, I never mentioned any of the negative events and kept silent about our sad breakup. Let them imagine my late friend as the kind talented person she used to be before life dealt her a blow she could not bear. This meeting also helped me heal, and I felt the old wound disappear.