From Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul on Love & Friendship

Saying Good-Bye

Today I said good-bye to my best friend—the one person I have been able to count on for so many years. She has been my companion through low self-esteem, hard tests and bad prom dates. She’s someone who could finish my sentences, who never failed to understand me, yet whom I could talk to for hours on end. My friend when friends seemed scarce and life too hard. Who’d laugh with me at jokes no one else understood. Though it took me a while to realize that a best friend is more than a title or an old habit, she was always there.

High school flew by so quickly that I hardly knew what I always had in front of me until it was getting ready to end. Our last year together was spent with late-night outings to 7-Eleven and the playground or to the river. Exploring our small town convinced me that we could discover something for ourselves. The realization that her home had become another home to me, her family an extension of my own. College applications, tears of frustration and anger, AP Exams and SATs, and, hardest of all, sitting there in my cap and gown with my classmates, listening to her speech. My best friend: intelligent, president of the Student Council, funny, beautiful, amazing. She’s someone I’m honored to lean over and whisper about to a classmate: “She’s my best friend.”

A friend who didn’t have to ask, “Are we going out Friday night?” but instead, “So, what are we doing Friday?” Attached at the hip through disloyal people, bad dates, long nights spent studying. And now, because we are “old enough,” we must head our separate ways—her on one side of the country, me on the other. Tears and discussion, excitement and fear for weeks beforehand. Last movies, dinners—the last everything. All this pain, and always putting the good-bye off until the last moment. Funny how, at the last moment, as I drove to her home this morning and hugged her for the last time for four months, the tears fell only for a few minutes. Because I’ve realized that it’s not good-bye forever, just until again. We’ll always have e-mail and phone calls, and Christmas, spring and summer breaks. When you have a once-in-a-lifetime friend, you’re always together, no matter how much distance is between you. Real love stretches and bends; it does not see state lines.

Or maybe the reason the tears dried up and the sobs stopped wracking my body as I drove away from her house, seeing her wave until I was out of sight, is because I’ve realized how amazingly lucky I am to have someone who is so hard to say good-bye to.

Kathryn Litzenberger

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