Written by Natasha Effendy
Amy has been always my best friend. She’s one of the most important people in my life. She makes me happy; she makes me sad; she makes me crazy. We tend to clash because of our conflicting personalities, but I love her all the same. Without her, my life would have sucked altogether and I don’t know who I would be. For that, I’m really grateful.
That day, she wasn’t in school. Usually she arrives at school a little earlier than me, and I’d meet her at her locker so we’d chat before the bell rang. This time, she wasn’t there, and when I asked our classmates about her, they said that they hadn’t seen her either. Judging by the harsh, snowy weather this morning, I guessed that she was going to be late due to heavy traffic or snow blocking the roads.
In the middle of a lesson, I saw my mother outside, looking grave. My teacher noticed my mother, too, so she let me out of my class.
“Mom? Is everything–” I began, only to cut myself off when she let out a choked sob.
“It’s Amy. She was in a car accident this morning…” Mom explained, and then hesitated. “… she didn’t make it.”
And that’s when my world came crashing down.
A lot of people attended the funeral. Some of our classmates were there too, and a few of our teachers. To my surprise, the principal of my school was there too, and she patted me reassuringly on the back. If she thought I was going to thank her for it, then she was mistaken, I thought. My mom and dad were talking to Amy’s parents in the front, who were crying. I sat somewhere in the sidelines, avoiding the crowd. I didn’t talk, I didn’t look up, and I felt suffocated. The moment the funeral ended and people returned home, I was relieved. The moment I came home, I ran up to my room and locked myself in, sobbing into my pillow.
My grieving lasted through most of the year. I was mostly bed-ridden and for the sake of my grades, I went – forced myself – to school. But then, the endless cycle of people looking over at me, talking about me in the hallways, and offering me empty condolences began to grate on my nerves. All the hugs didn’t soothe me, they just ticked me off. Eventually, I gave up on school. Mom often brought me meals which I couldn’t eat because I lacked the appetite for it. With me being so passive and inactive, I stayed in bed too often and became sick. That ruined me altogether because I couldn’t leave the bed. I hid under the blankets even though the curtains were closed and the lights were off.
Then, I refused to leave the house. People called and texted me but I ignored them all. Most left voice-mails and emails that I didn’t check. When they came over for a visit, I told Mom to lie for me that I wasn’t at home. My mom forced me to meet with a counselor, which did a poor job of fixing anything. Well, for me anyway. After two sessions, I quit. My room began to feel claustrophobic, partly because I was always locked in, but I still refused to get out. A stench hung in my room and I gagged. That’s me and my unwashed self. I hadn’t changed the bed sheets in so long, and my food often went sour.
I felt so alone. I felt pathetic and feeble. I cried over the worn photo albums and polaroids and teddy bears and friendship bracelets. All those memories hurt me so badly, Amy’s grinning face imprinted in my memory. I stopped listening to the songs Amy and I liked. I found myself scribbling uneven circles on spare sheets, over and over, so that I carved a hole into the paper. I tried drawing and writing lists of miscellaneous items but I gave up instantly, crushed it into balls and tossed them across the room. Out of sight, out of mind. I wondered if I gave up on it all and if I went away, too, would I meet Amy, wherever she was?
One day, in the midst of my brooding, I shifted over to the cold side of my bed and noticed a box there. A flimsy, glittery blue ribbon was stuck to the top of it; I rolled my eyes at that. But then I saw the card attached to it.
Amy would like you to have this. – Mom
Amy. The name tugged painfully at my heartstrings, and I hadn’t heard that name in so long except in my thoughts. When I opened up the box, a lot of packing nuts spilled out. Some landed in my lap. Annoyed, I’d decided to put the box back onto the floor when, to my shock, a little brown nose stuck out from the pile, followed by a tiny face of a Welsh Pembroke Corgi. I pulled it out gently so it could sit on the floor. It stumbled over its fat, pudgy legs, sniffing the smelly carpet. When it reached my bed, it whimpered for help. I laughed for the first time in months, and set it in between my legs where it rolled around as if asking for some petting. Under my fingertips, it felt so soft. It nuzzled its nose into my palm.
Then, I cried. I couldn’t stop myself, My heart felt warm again and all my suppressed emotions broke free. I decided to start over with this little potato of a dog; a new friendship to replace the lost one.