When I was in high school, my best friend was a guy.
One summer, just days before our senior year was going to start, he took a traditional annual trip with his older sister to a rock concert. It's something they each looked forward to every year -this year more than most because they were going to see my buddy's favorite band, one that doesn't tour as actively as other bands.
They never made it.
I still remember the phone call. I was at work at the Mom and Pop pizza joint I worked at when I wasn't at school or doing school-related activities or working for Dad.
"Alicia, are you sitting down? There's been an accident."
My friend had fallen asleep driving. His sister had been lying down in the back seat -she was asleep. She was thrown through the windshield.
"She didn't make it."
"How is he?" I asked.
"No one knows yet..."
Life sort of stopped for our little town that day. I left work in tears, worried sick, terribly saddened.
My friend lived.
No one knows how.
I hardly left his side for the next few months. We downloaded music together, did homework together, even napped in his living room.
Looking back, I can see how I was codependent even then... my Dad had a different name for it.
"You're being overbearing," he said.
But I couldn't leave my friend. What's more: he didn't WANT me to leave. Months later, his grandmother expressed her gratitude to my Dad.
"She's the reason he's pulled through these first few months."
My Dad apologized for accusing me of being overbearing. And if I could go back to 2002, I don't think I would change what I did. It's just interesting to look back and see how I was already codependent and that my husband's addiction didn't CAUSE it -it merely amplified what was already there.
His sister's funeral brought peace. But she was so young -only two years out of high school.
And a choir of young women -her friends and peers and those who had loved, associated, looked up to and been touched by her -stood together and sang her favorite song.
She wasn't a typical LDS teenager. She was feisty and full of life. She made everyone feel important, she looked down on no one. Everyone loved her -the jocks, the smart kids, the loners, the music kids... not because she was syrupy sweet but because she wasn't. She was genuine in everything she did.
She greeted every woman in the hallway with a swift punch to the chest (right or left, didn't matter).
When I was 15, I sat in front of her in seminary. She would pull out pictures of her boyfriend.
We had a running joke going about her boyfriend. I would write notes and pass them to her.
"I was with him last night. There was chocolate syrup involved. He couldn't even remember your name. Face it: we're in love."
In return she gave me plastic Ken Doll.
"The only boyfriend you'll EVER be capable of getting."
It made me laugh so hard. I still have that plastic doll, affectionately named "Benji." He was the Academic Decathlon Mascot for years.
She tried weed once, kissed over 20 boys, fell in love quickly, sported dreds, acted in plays, sang in choirs, held hands, hugged, beamed, was unashamedly NSYNC's and Beastie Boys' biggest fan, loved the gospel, loved her family, loved her life.
So it isn't any wonder that when we sang her favorite song for her, it was Perfect Love.
I found myself singing this song last night to my fussing baby.
She wasn't feeling well, and we both hopped in the drink together. The warm water and steam helped her. The bathroom acoustics helped me.
As the memorized words came from my mouth and soothed my baby, I thought of my friend. I thought of how much I'd learned about love in the past few years that my friend already understood before she left us.
I was taken back to the chapel -the casket, the flowers, the choir seats filled with beautiful girls with tear-stained faces and heart-filled voices.
Love is the why... of everything.