best friends

By Kathryn Baxter
Woman Newspapers

When I started tenth grade at a new school, a fellow student offered to show me the ropes. In those awkward moments of early adolescence, she and I grew close. Since then, we’ve never not been best friends. We have lived in different cities, states, countries and hemispheres, but we’ve always been together - if only in spirit. 

I recently started thinking about what it really means to me to be a best friend.

She might tell you about the day we were in our school library and she learned difficult news. She might tell you that when she started crying, I sat at her feet and held her hands and knees, staring at her, giving her a place to look while she cried. 

I would tell you that this person, my friend, was sharing her scary pain and I didn’t know what else to do but be with her, silently. 

For years, we mirrored each other’s pain and fear and confusion. And joy. There was so much joy. So much love. We started calling each other a third parent. We started celebrating the anniversary of our friendship. 

She crocheted me a scarf. We shared mixtapes and burned playlists. I made her collages. She shared her artwork with me. I shared my writing with her.

When we were nineteen, we imagined we could raise a child together, like a family – but different. By then we had witnessed so much together. Her mother left. My brother ran off. Her grandfather died. My mother lost her job and her home. My heart had been broken - again. Her heart had been broken - again

When we needed advice, when we needed to be witnessed by the one person who has been there through so much, we turned to each other.

When she fell in love, her heart trembled at the thought of forever being with someone; and forever being without that someone. And she started wanting a child for real.

When she told me I would be her baby’s godmother, my eyes grew large and reflected all the light she shined onto me. I started to imagine how I would aim that reflection to a new person.

I thought of what we were like, teenagers, side-by-side. I think of how quickly her son will be the age she and I were when we first met. 

Over twenty years ago, we fell into a kind of innocent love with each other and we never fell out of that love, even when we are cities and states and countries and hemispheres apart. 

I feel my heartbeat, and I want her baby to fall asleep against it one day. And I count down the days to meet this brand new person coming from one of the few people I’ve known for so, so long.