What Best Friends Are For

“So, it’s officially over,” Mel’s voice cracks as she dramatically chokes back tears. “I am so sorry, sweetie. Ten years is an insanely long time and I have no clue how you must be feeling.” And Tara really didn’t know. In fact, she struggled to come up with anything to say at all. The only thing she could think of is the standard “time heals all wounds” cliché. And that’s not helpful two weeks after a sudden, confusing break up. The situation sucked. And it was shocking.  It was a sucky, shocking mess that Mel definitely didn’t deserve. “Mel? Are you still there?” Mel sobs into the arm of her sweatshirt, her swollen face buried in her wet sleeve.

A muffled “I’m here” eventually makes it through and Tara wants nothing more in that moment than to hug her. “Mel, you are beautiful, smart, hilarious and I’ve always admired the way you handle yourself in tough situations. You’re going to get through this. I know it’s hard, but in time you’ll see I’m right.” Wiping the snot away from her nose, Mel replies “I know. But at the moment there’s a searing pain in my heart and my eyes are so swollen that I can barely see two feet in front of me, let alone my bright future.”

The next day Mel is still rather distraught and disheveled. She lies hopelessly on the couch in her overwhelmingly empty house. She stares blankly at a wall while her equally depressed dog Max lies in the middle of the living room spread-eagle.  The doorbell rings and Max is instantly up and barking. Mel drags her weak body to the door and opens it. There’s a package on her doorstep. “From your biggest fan,” it reads. Mel shuffles feebly into the kitchen, grabs a knife and stabs open the box.  Inside is a flight itinerary to Wisconsin. A post-it note on top says, “I love you. Come to me.” Mel instantly bursts into tears because the sentiment is so damn beautiful. She gathers herself enough to look through the rest of the box and finds the following glorious things: candles, coloring books, crayons, chocolate, Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic. She bursts into tears again. Tara is the best friend any girl could possibly have.

A week later Mel is in Wisconsin and slightly less of a wreck. But only slightly. She’s standing under the Arrivals sign at the airport when Tara rolls up in her shiny new car. Tara gives her very broken friend a look of deep sympathy as she gets in the car. They hug and Tara pulls away from the curb. “Okay, little lady, your itinerary is as follows: first, brunch with the gang at my place. Followed by hanging out and talking profusely about all of your feelings. Tomorrow you’ll stay with Tim, who has promised breakfast in bed and equally profuse talking opportunities. Then you’ll come visit me at work and I’ll take my break with you. That night we’ll show you around Madison and we can listen to music in Capitol Square – it’s called COTS, it’s a thing here. Thursday is Reinvention Day. I know how very little you care about fashion and makeup and all that, so allow me to help you pick out your new wardrobe for your new life as a kick-ass, independent, single lady. This is an exciting new chapter for you, love. I know you’re currently residing in Misery Land, and that’s fine for now, but pretty soon I’m going to have to insist that you stop that. You’re too smart, funny and genuinely kind to let somebody else’s mid-life crisis stand in your way. I know you already know this because you’re emotionally intelligent, but methinks you need a reminder, so there you go. Memo delivered.” Mel just sat and stared at Tara, eyes welling with grateful tears. “Thank you so much,” is all she can say without sobbing uncontrollably.

Tara’s words had given her strength. Before this whole breakup nonsense, Mel had always had a natural confidence about her. She had always felt like a high quality, successful person with enough drive and emotional strength to get everything she wanted in life. When she ended up losing something really important to her, ultimately because of her own actions, her confidence was rattled. Tara’s words reawakened that part of her that doesn’t believe in self-doubt. And instantly she felt secure. Sad for her loss, but suddenly sure it would work out for the best.

For the rest of the car ride Mel thinks about how amazing Tara is. She’s a successful, badass woman balancing her important role at work with her important role as girlfriend in her strong, long-term relationship. She’s a ridiculously thoughtful and patient friend.  She’s super fit, super confident, she tells it like it is. And she chose Mel as a friend. She made time in her busy schedule and spent money she worked hard to earn, all so she could make her friend feel better. “How lucky I am,” Mel thought,  “to have a best friend like Tara. Without her, life would be significantly harder and much less fun.”  She puts her hand on Tara’s knee and squeezes it, “I love you.” Tara squeezes her hand, “Love you, too, sweetie. We’re going to get you through this.”

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