I first met my best friend when I was 13-years-old.
It was because of her that I tried red velvet cake for the first time. It was also because of her that I almost got suspended because we started a food fight on the last day of middle school and I had so volunteered to go to the principal’s office with her. Why? Because if you were to start a food fight with anyone, they are instantly by default your ride-or-die.
15 years later, she’s still my ride-or-die. But also in those 15 years, life happened.
My best friend lost her mom when she was only 19-years-old. She then lost her dad at 23.
Almost ten years later, I still don’t know the right words to say and find myself feeling frustrated that all I can do is feel; that feeling alone will never come close to those that stir within her during her darkest hours.
So here I am — her best friend of more than half our lifetime and all I can do is offer to sit beside her when she needs it and love her enough for her to feel it. Often times, it happens when we sit in silence.
But the thing about my best friend is that she continues on with life with a smile and strives to stay happy. Ironically, her name is Happy, and if there’s anything that I learned through all of this, it’s that being loud and bold does not showcase one’s strength. One’s strength shines through grocery shopping on a typical Wednesday, commuting to work or even casually running your errands.
One’s strength shows in living. One’s strength shows in showing up.
Over the past several years, a handful of my friends had their worlds turned upside down. They had to say goodbye to their heroes and their role models who came in the shapes of loving moms and dads. Although they didn’t choose for these sudden goodbyes, they continue to live with great intentions even if it seems to be raining more on their side of the world.
So to my best friend, I know I often don’t have the right words to say and would give anything to take half — if not all your pain away but I know I can’t. Just know you inspire me to be stronger, be better and more importantly — to show up.
Originally published at akinamarie.com.