It was one of the hardest times of my life… watching the happiness drain out of her smile as the time dragged by. It was like all she loved in life seemed pulled away, and she couldn’t even find enough strength to put a real smile on her face, or a real laugh on her features. Every moment I was around her, I tried to urge a smile out of her, but it was more fake emotions. The only real emotion she had was sadness, but she was too caring about others to show her sadness… yet I could tell. When I’d see her nodding silently as someone droned on about their life, I could tell her mind had wandered…and when I saw her retreat outside to be alone for a while, I tried to convince myself to go out, to make sure she was okay…even though I knew she wasn’t… yet I didn’t have the courage.
Now, as I sit here in bed, I wonder if I should be doing something. I feel that I’m important. That I could make a difference in her life.. that if I let God use me as I feel He wants to, that I may be able to help her find life again… to find her source of energy, to find her smile. I think about how much this world could be encouraged by a smile like hers. It makes my heart ache thinking about it. Sometimes I feel as though she can never be happy again…but then I think about how I’ve never even tried to help. I’ve never reached out.
I walk down the stairs, my hand running along the smooth wooden railing as I make my way to the porch. Slipping on my old blue converse, I trot down the stairs. After my short trip to the library to return a movie, I find myself driving slowly down the road, nearing her street on my way home. I stop at the sign next to her street, but I don’t keep moving. Something inside me is telling me I need to talk to her. To be the friend I’m supposed to. To check on her. We haven’t been close for a while, but I wonder if I have even let her know that I care? That I love her? She’s seemed so depressed… to think that she may not believe anyone loves her- that thought hurts me me… If something was to happen, and we wouldn’t see each other again, I would have too many regrets to live with.
I feel my left hand pushing upward on the turn signal, and turn onto her street, the familiar house coming into view. I think about how we used to laugh and play so much back when we were close. Back when I saw her more often… before she lost her light. I wonder for a moment if this was a bad idea, but I know I can’t back out now. As I pull up I see her younger brother in the yard talking to his friend. I smile as I pull over to the side of the road and turn the key off. It’s been so long since I saw her brother, I didn’t realize how tall he was now. He used to consider me a big sister, and I thought him as a little brother…
I hop out of the car, then walk slowly towards the house trying to figure out what I will even say. If she’s even home. As I walk up, her brother pauses mid-conversation, a smile sliding over his face.
“Hey, Abbie. Been a while… are you here to talk to Jess?” he looks at me, as if he wants to be more friendly, but still seems slightly awkward.
I pause, a slight grin on my face as I nod. “Yeah, is she here?”
“yeah…in the house” he motions toward the house behind him and then hesitates, but eventually starts his conversation with his friend again.
I walk up to the porch, playing with my hair as I realize I don’t know what to say… Knocking on the door, I wonder if she even wants to see me. As she opens the door, I try to slide a smile on my face, even though seeing her struggling like this is hard.
“Hey Jess.” I say. “Can I come in?”
She nods, a slight smile coming over her face. “Sure.”
I walk in and go to sit on the couch, then pause as I wait for her to come in. I feel tears gather in my eyes as we stare at each other blankly for a while… we’re both so different now. I feel a lump rise in my throat as I go to speak, but some how I manage to get a few words out. “I miss you lately, Jess…” I walk toward her and wrap her in a hug, whispering that I hope she knows I care about her and I want to see her more often. As we release, I see tears running out of her eyes.
And maybe I’m imagining it, but I believe I watched as a bit more light entered her still sad features.
“I miss you too, Abbie.”
And as we hug again I realize that this is where the healing starts, and that I never want to let my dear friend go again. Because I couldn’t bear to live without her. I look upward and whisper a quick word of thanks to God for giving me the strength to talk to her.
Just a note: this was a fiction story
Although I do very very much love all of my friends, and would want to be quick to encourage and love them if I saw them struggling.