On June 6, 2006 I woke up late. I had a hangover. From drinking. From crying. From being 18. The night before my best friend had lost his 9 month battle with a cancer we could never understand. After hearing the news, I went to a party with some friends where I drank too much and slapped an ex-boyfriend in the face. On this particular June morning-after, I had somewhere to be. It was drizzling out. I had no time to shower and my eyes were puffy. I threw on the first thing I saw as I ran out the door. A few hours later, my name was called and I was handed a diploma. Under my gown, I was wearing a bathing suit cover-up. I was a high school graduate and my sweet friend Matt would never turn 20.
For four years, the beginning of June marked nothing for me but the start of summers fueled by emotion and alcohol. That’s what my town did best, after all. We drank that night and almost every night after. We drank and drank and I remember the escape I looked for but never found. Months turned into years and suddenly I couldn’t remember his face anymore, or why I was still drinking and crying.
The summer I didn’t go home was the summer I met Grace. I was to be her nanny. She was four.
When she told me her birthday, it was hard not to make a connection. Not to think about how the day she was born was also the first day that Matt didn’t see, or that we didn’t see Matt, rather. It was hard not to think how ironic, how unfair, how strange. How sad I was on the day you were born. Not to think about how his parents said good bye while her parents said hello.
So instead of trying not to think about it, I did. I thought about it and I wrote about it and I thanked God for blessing me with these two vastly different, yet connected friendships, and also for the ability to put down in writing how much they both mean.