School days, the days of having Twix and Dr. Pepper for lunch and not gaining weight. Days of friends having amazing times together and not worrying about paying bills. Days that included silly arguments by the lockers in the morning and makeups in the gym after school. My best friend, Brittany, and I had the best of times! We cheered together and were tennis partners, we did everything together. My parents were pretty strict but, they always let me go to her house for sleepovers. We had the best laughs and deepest conversations. I have never known anyone that could light up a room the way she did just by entering. She had the sweetest, country twang when she spoke. I loved her like a sister. She was the most beautiful person inside and out.
After I ran away, I started to disconnect from friends and family. I didn’t want to hear anybody’s opinion about my life choices. That’s how I dealt with things, like Scarlett O’Hara said “I will think about that tomorrow.” I moved to Florida without saying goodbye to Brittany. I felt untouchable when I moved out on my own. I sincerely thought this world was built for me. Nothing too bad would happen to me, I was in control. Life was good. One night in Florida, she was all I could think about. I called her from my sister’s front porch and told her I was sorry for everything. Sorry for the distance, sorry for not saying goodbye. We both cried a little and all was forgiven. We told each other we loved each other and she promised she would come to visit me in Florida that summer.
Then January 2004, I got the most devastating call I have ever received. I was working at a dermatologist’s office doing insurance billing. The office manager called me back to the break room and said my mom was on the phone. My stomach dropped. I didn’t know what she was going to say but, I could feel something bad was in the air. My mom was trying to be calm but, she was crying. She tried to hold herself together to tell me as gently as possible that my best friend had been in a horrific car accident. She had passed away. I could hear what my mom was saying but, I couldn’t believe her shaky words. I fell to my knees and couldn’t stop crying. At that moment I knew everything in my world had changed. I wasn’t untouchable, the world wasn’t made for me, bad things can happen.
The next day I started driving back to my hometown with a map my dad had drawn for me. I was terrible with directions! There was no GPS or cell phones. Just me and my landmark map driving 8 hours while crying to say goodbye to my best friend. I got lost, called my parents from several pay phones, tried to get there as quickly as I could. I finally got to my parent’s house but, I had missed the funeral. I called Brittany’s parents and went straight to their house. I had a wonderful conversation with her mom, she was so incredibly strong.
On my way back to Florida, I got flowers and planned to go to the cemetery. I drove up and saw the tent over a grave, I knew that was where she had been laid to rest. I started to get very emotional, I couldn’t make myself get out of the car. It started to rain and I drove off, I never got out of the car. I cried the whole drive home. That was the last time I went to my hometown. My parents have since moved. I never gave her my flowers or said goodbye.
January 2022 marks 18 years since my life changed forever. I still miss her and have so many regrets. There has not been a day that goes by that I don’t have a dream about her or think about her. I recently had an amazing conversation with her mom and she gave me her blessing to write this story. I want her parents and family to know, Brittany is not forgotten. Her sweet spirit lives on and I know we will all see her again someday. I will love and miss you forever, Britt!