By Cherimie Crane Weatherford
I remember quite well the sidewalk, sunburned grass sneaking its way through the child-counted cracks. The building was nothing special, more akin to an oversized stone block rather than an office of award-winning medical care. The waiting room was pleasant enough, thoughtfully dressed in child friendly decor. Tattered coloring books mixed with sanitized toys served as a distraction while parent filled out necessary paperwork. Being an odd child, I found the pamphlets and sparse medical journals more appealing than the Sesame Street figurines or toys of varying size and sound. Maybe that explains why I often hid under the carefully cleaned chairs, behind the plainly painted doors or found it necessary to visit the little girls room every five seconds, just for good measure. No different than now, I simply wasn’t easily distracted when pain was imminent. I knew why I was there.
Recently, in keeping with my odd ways, while others were basking in joy, intent on celebration and awed by the beauty that is a blushing bride, I couldn’t help but remember trips to the doctor’s office as a child. No matter what my Mom would promise, I was certain there would be a shot. An otherwise fabulous day would be interrupted by a painful prick. In order to keep me from displaying my masterful skills of escape, my mom would gently and desperately try to convince me to look away. “Isn’t that photo of that random, lifeless bird beautiful?” she would say, doing her very best to get me to look in the opposite direction from the pending good day interruption. From making extremely odd faces, to dancing, even attempting to entice me with the promise of ice cream, she would try everything to get me to look away from the needle resting on the nurse’s table. She failed more often than not. I knew what was coming. I knew why I was there. Ice cream was not going to fix this.
Today, I am preparing to watch my very best friend marry a man who makes her heart sing. Friends and family are traveling from all of the country to join her on this most special day. She has asked me to stand by her side as she takes his hand and begins her new journey. Any normal female would fill her mind with thoughts of fun, fodder and bridal dresses adorned in layers of lavender, instead, I find myself preparing to look away.
It isn’t my preference to avoid the spotlight that has my stomach in knots and my heart in shambles — it is the fact that her “I do” will be leading her to Spain. Never feeling deep hatred for a country before, this is a new dilemma. I am sure there are plenty of beautiful people in Spain, there is no reason they should require another. Doing my very best to keep my hands from shaking, my heart from breaking and my bridal party makeup from erupting into mayhem, I will fluff her train, hold her bouquet and hand her the ring to place on the hand she will hold.
On the ride to the ceremony, I counted trees, I noticed flowers and took breaths deeper than any river. This is her day, her story, my tears will just have to wait. And wait they did, until she walked down the aisle. I couldn’t tell you what music was playing, who was in the audience or even the colors of the decor. I can tell you the first day we met, the first fight we had, her favorite color, her biggest fears, her favorite song, the pitch of her laugh, even her favorite way to eat eggs. She is my best friend. Staring at the grass did no good, with each step she took I replayed some portion of my life that simply wouldn’t not have been the same without her beside me. Knowing that kidnapping her was not only a felony but completely inappropriate during a wedding, I did the only thing I knew to do. Momma would be proud, I finally looked away. Not really the portrait of the perfect Maid of Honor, but I knew Lydia would understand. I had too. One of life’s most prickly sticks is heading my way. Of course, we will visit. No doubt we will keep in touch. It just isn’t the same.
It is the double-edged sword of friendship. She is happy, she is beautiful and he loves her dearly. Wanting only the very best for her, I smile during photos, bustle her gown, hand over her very favorite lip gloss and light a sparkler as she rides away. My days, and my closet, will not be the same without her nearby. There is something so special, so rare as the bond of a woman and her best friend. We know each others strengths, weaknesses, shoe size and boiling point. Although we both know distance is only a number, I will miss her greatly. I have no doubt that she understands why I might just have to look the other way. I know what is coming, I know why I am here. Ice cream isn’t going to fix this.