There’s something to be said about old friends. You can’t puke on your new friend’s shoes and expect them to text you the next day to hang out. But old friends have no choice but to put up with your bullshit and just clean the vomit off. You’ve lasted this long, there’s no use trying to make new friends now, right?
I met Jackie in the first grade at Catholic school. Our parents became fast friends as Market Day Pick Up Volunteers and so did we. In the fifth grade her grandmother sowed her a pint sized sleeping bag for her Beanie Babies to sleep in and I was so jealous I thought about stealing it but I knew I would have to confess and say 5 Our Father’s and that was just too much work. Fast forward several years and we are now in different high schools. I mixed in with the wrong crowd and quickly found myself pregnant. She was a cheerleader who still attended church every Sunday. In a moment of despair I typed the words into her AIM chatbox “I’m pregnant and I’m getting an abortion.”
I knew what her opinion would be and I knew it would be in opposition of mine. If I am really honest with myself, I mean like really, truly honest; I think I wanted her to stop me. She went to the school’s nun’s office that day. She cried her teenage tears and poured her heart out to this woman whose name I don’t remember. God, the grief I must have caused her innocent adolescent heart I wish I could take back. No child should have to go through that. Her mother found her sobbing in her bedroom a few days later, and when pressed, my secret came spilling out of her mouth. Her mother did what any good mother would do and what I would certainly do for my own daughter’s best friend- she called my mom.
I neglected to share with my parents my current prenatal status. I was scheduled for the abortion and a judge was going to rule that as a minor I was competent enough to make this decision on my own. The shame in my mother’s eyes and the quivering of her voice when she picked me up that Saturday night from a friend’s house.. God I was so naïve and selfish.
I didn’t learn of my friend’s heartache and her multiple counseling sessions with the nun until years later.. Jackie could barely walk. She was stumbling down the city streets after a night out celebrating her bachelorette party. I was doing most of the walking for her and trying as hard as I could to hold her up. “I saved Gwen’s life! That child is alive because of ME,” she confessed.
My daughter’s life, in a way, is accredited to Jackie and her mother and that nun. How fortunate was I to have all of these people care so deeply about me and my child? You know how the story ends- I gave birth to a genius and she will definitely be able to afford a super nice retirement home for me one day. But what is really remarkable is that Jackie stayed with me for the following two decade’s worth of mistakes. What choice did she really have, though? We’ve been through this much already, there’s no use making new friends now.
As I reflected on our almost 30 year friendship I scrolled through my phone to our last text exchange several weeks ago-
“Tell your boss I’m sorry I was propositioning him for cocaine.”
“Hahaha I will.”
Some things never change.