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Unexpected

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As I wake up, I feel woozy and disoriented. My eyes are red and swollen from crying. I can see the sun peeking out from behind the shade in the window. I glance at the digital clock on the night table, and its nine thirty-seven. I blink, keeping my eyes closed for an extra second, and than I look to my right at my sleeping best friend. Not wanting to wake her, but needing some form of comfort, I put my head on her stomach and stare up at the ceiling. I am careful not to move so I don’t wake her, I want her to continue sleeping, a temporary escape in peaceful dreams. Her eyes are looking puffy too. I close my eyes for what feels like a second, and when I open them its eleven oh three. I’m still on Mel’s stomach, and I hear her say “Tor?”, so I slowly sit up and turn to her, as she does the same. We sit, not knowing what to say. Melanie’s mom opens the door. We both slowly turn to face her. She asks us if we want something to eat, and we both say at almost the same time, “Thanks, but I’m not really hungry.”

The accident occurred yesterday afternoon, around two-ish. The accident that changed lives in a matter of seconds, it had happened quick, almost instantaneous. It had come up suddenly, I mean it’s not everyday that one of your best friends dies in a car accident. I hadn’t been there, and neither had Mel. Thank God for that, though, at least we still have each other. The doctor said since it had been so quick, she probably didn’t feel that much pain. I hope she didn’t feel anything, I hope it wasn’t painful.

The three of us had been inseparable since our first day of preschool. We had grown up together, and our families grew as close as if actually related by blood and not just their daughter’s friendship. And now this. She was on her way to her job, and that’s when it happened. The road was slick; it had been raining for two days straight. Mel and I were watching a movie at our friend’s house, when my older brother came, with his face almost in tears. He told us about the accident, and then drove us to the hospital.

I snap out of the memories and look at Mel again. The silence is broken when I hear her say, “It doesn’t feel real. I keep thinking that I’ll get a call or text from her, but then I realize that that won’t ever happen.” I look at my remaining best friend, and my eyes fill with tears. All I can mutter is “Is” before I burst into tears. When we were really little, Melanie and I had trouble pronouncing “Liz” and would say “Is” by accident all the time. Between the three of us, though, it became Elizabeth’s nickname.

Mel starts to cry too, and after a few minutes we calm down. I hold her hand to gain her attention, and then say how we have to be strong because that’s the way Is would want it. Mel knows that I am right; Liz was strong and outgoing, always seeing some happiness in even the darkest of situations.

We get up, walk to the kitchen, and sit down at the table. Mel’s mom sees us, and somehow knows that if she makes us pancakes, we would realize how hungry we are. Actually, I realize I’m starving. Come to think of it, we had nothing at the hospital and just a grilled cheese when we got home, and that was it.

Since my phone is off, my mom calls the landline to speak with me. She asks if and when she should come get me. I reply with, “Melly is sleeping over, can you come in an hour?” and she answers with “Alright, love you”. After I told her I love her too, we hang up. She knows that Mel and I won’t be able to leave each other, not until after the funeral at least. It’s too soon for us, and we never had needed each other more then we do now. Throughout our childhood and our early teen years, we had stood by each other’s side no matter what kind of support was needed…that’s just how things were. If one of us had a problem, the other two would always be with here.

We are done eating, and Mel is taking a shower. Since I wasn’t prepared to sleep over last night, I borrowed sweats from Melanie. I change into my clothing from yesterday, and fold the borrowed clothing on her bed. I get her usual overnight bag from her closet. I know her room practically as well as I know my own, and I stick the basics I know that she’d want. When she gets out of the shower, she finishes packing. I hear the phone ring again, and then Mel’s mom comes in and tells us “The funeral is the day after tomorrow.” We both take in a few deep breaths and then nod.

We hear a knock at the door, and then we hear the door opening. We walk out to greet my mother, who is in a long hug with Melly’s mother. I walk up to my mom, who kisses my forehead and gives me a hug. We go back to Mel’s room to get her bag, and ignore the hushed tones coming from our moms’ direction. No doubt they are talking about when the funeral is, how we are doing, and how they are going to visit Liz’s mom later in the afternoon. Before we are down the hall and back with our parents, Mel turns and grabs me.
“Look, our moms are going to her house to be there for her mom, and you know we should too. She is like our second mom, and you know she is closer to us then any of our aunts or anyone like that. And plus, I need something of hers, I need to have something that belonged to her, Tori, and you know exactly what I mean”. She was almost shaking, and I answer my friend, “You’re completely right, and she would want us to be there for her mom and for Molly. And, well, I want something from her too. Not so that I’ll never forget her, but to represent that she was a part of me and I can’t forget her if I tried.” Mel and I nodded, she let go of my arm, and we proceed down the hallway.
Elizabeth had a younger sister, Molly, who is a year younger then us. Her dad left when Molly was born, so it’s just them and her mom. My older brother, Brian, is a year older then us. Mel doesn’t have any siblings, but since our families are so close, the four of us are like the sisters and brother that she never had. But still, the three of us were so close that I practically consider them my sisters. I know that sounds corny, but I spent most of my life growing up with them, and we’ve grown to depend on each other.
Our moms finish talking, and we follow my mom out to the car. We drive the short way home, and as we walk into my house I realize how the sun is shining. Why couldn’t the weather be like this yesterday? The road wouldn’t have been slippery and this wouldn’t be happening. I still feel like this isn’t happening, because I’m just going through the motions. My thoughts are clouded, and I can barely register my actions. But at that moment, I realize something.
When we get inside, it’s my turn for a shower. When I get out, Mel and I go for a walk. We end up at our elementary school playground, which is in walking distance from all three of our houses. Then I look at Mel, and tell her I realized something. I tell her that I know we’re devastated, but if we act like zombies it won’t get us anywhere. And plus, Liz would never want it this way. Even when we were dealing with death of a family member, she would always be the one to say life goes on, and the best we can do is remember all the great times with that person. I now understand what she meant, that even though we are sad and full of pain, it won’t help. No matter what we do, it can’t bring the person back, so we just have to be strong and get through it. It’s okay to be upset, but if we spend the rest of our lives mourning, then we’ll never get to live life ourselves. I know it sounds a bit coldhearted, but if we let ourselves die with the dead, then what’s the point of living? Well, there isn’t one, and I understand that now.
Melanie stares at me, and she now begins to shake. Her eyes now fill with tears, and between her sobs she gets out the words “You’re right, you’re completely right.” Now my eyes begin to fill with tears, and I begin to shake too. We both go in for a hug, as we continue sobbing. We sit down on the blacktop, me being grateful that no one was here. We sit there for a while, just crying. Although I know we need to be strong, I know that it’s okay to cry, too. After what felt like an hour or so, we begin to calm down. Our faces wet and red, I look at her and laugh. She gives me a strange look, probably thinking I went crazy or something, and then I explain, “I just thought of the time when we were in like first grade and we were on our way to school and Is fell into a puddle of mud because it rained the night before, and she started to cry hysterically. But looking back on that she found it funny and always laughed.” Mel let out a giggle and a sigh, although it was one of those stories that only we found funny and everyone else found awkward, it always made us laugh. “Remember how she would laugh at like the stupidest jokes only like little kids find funny? She laughed at everything.” Mel is right, she did laugh at everything, and that’s how we spent the rest of the afternoon …reminiscing about our past.
We walk back to my house, and have something to eat. Then my mom tells us its time to go to Liz’s house. We get there, and we go and comfort her mother and Molly. We get a chance to sneak away, and go into her room and shut her door. At first, we don’t know what to do, it feels so weird. We look around, sort of as if it was like our first time there. I look at the things she left on her dresser and night table, the pile of dirty clothes on the floor, and the stuff she left on her bed. The unfinished homework on her desk, shoes thrown all over the floor, pictures on the wall…it feels like she never left. I hear Melanie’s laugh and walk over to her. Together we look at the pictures on her wall, most of them containing the three of us. Pictures from when we were little, some from special occasions, and some of us just acting stupid. We laugh and talk about the times and stories behind each picture, and it somehow gives me comfort.
We walk back out into the living room, and Liz’s mom walks up to us. “Girls” she says “I figure you’d want some things of hers. Victoria, I want you to have her locket…you know she wore it almost everyday and loved it. Melanie, I want you to have her ring with her birthstone on it…you know she never took it off. Now, you can take any of the pictures from her room, and if there is something else you want just tell me.” We both look at her, and our eyes fill with tears as we tell her thank you and give her a hug. “There is just one thing I’d like from you two.” Says Liz’s mom, Mel and I tell her anything she needs and she continues, “I would really appreciate it if you would say something about her at the funeral. I consider you girls my family, practically daughters and I think she’d really like for you two to do this.” I tell her “Of course” as Mel nods. We both know that this could be hard, but we would do anything for her mom, especially now.
We get home, and have something to eat. Then Mel and I get a pad of paper and a pen, and begin to work. “Well, I think we need to make this not long and to the point, if its long and boring no one will listen to it, and then it’ll be a waste. We have so many things to say about her, and if no one listens to it then it’ll be pointless.” I agree with my friend, and we decide to make a list of all the things about her that we want to include. After a few hours of working on it, some giggles, and many shed tears, we put it away for tomorrow.
It’s about nine, and Mel and I are on the couch watching TV, covered with a blanket. We flip through the channels, and then we stop when we found a channel that was playing The Little Mermaid. Although I’ve seen it more times then I could ever possibly count to, and Mel has too, it had been Liz’s favorite movie for as long as I’ve known her. When we were little, that was always her choice of movie, and even when we got older, we would occasionally watch it, and she never got sick of it. Melanie and I don’t need to exchange words to agree that we are going to watch it, it was her favorite movie and if she was with us she would make us watch it anyway. Although we could practically recite every line, it now seemed different to me. Was it because Liz wasn’t there to sing along with her favorite parts? Or recite her favorite lines? Maybe because we are two seventeen year-olds watching a children’s movie as a way to relate to our dead best friend? Or possibly because I started crying towards the end, because missing Liz was the worst feeling I have experienced? Well I know that it may seem weird or pathetic, but it reminds me of her, and it almost feels comforting in a creepy way.

We fell asleep on the couch an hour after the movie was ending, as we were watching a rerun of Gilmore Girls. I wake up and find no one besides me, where there had been someone the night before. I get off the couch and make my way to the kitchen, and find Melanie talking with my mother. “Why didn’t you wake me up?” I ask, and I receive her reply “You looked peaceful, no big deal. Not like I’ve never woken up before you ever before.” I say thanks, grab some waffles and stick them in the toaster. As I get out a plate, I think how there is only one more day. After today is the funeral, and then it’s time to have to move on with our lives.

We spend the rest of our day working on what we’re going to say at the funeral, then watch some more TV. The Notebook was on, another favorite movie of Liz’s, another movie we both cry the entire length of, another reminder of her. Everything I see makes me think of her, of a joke or comment that was once said. Memories that wash over me repeatedly, again and again. But in a way I like them, because for a split second, it’s like she is still here.

The day is here. We get up, and eat something. Melanie should probably go home to get ready, but honestly, I don’t think I could get along without her. I shower and pick out my clothes, black pants with a dark gray shirt and heels. I grab my straightner and make-up, throw it in a bag, and my mom gives me her car keys. I drive to Melanie’s house, with my bag in the back seat and her in the passenger’s seat. We get there, and I straighten my hair as she takes a shower, and we get ready together. She puts on a black dress, a dress somehow perfect for a funeral. When it’s time to leave, we get in the car and I hesitate to put the key in the ignition.

“I feel like this is when it gets real. After today, there is no more hope that this is a mistake…no more hope that she is ever coming back.” I say to her, and she answers “I understand, but we have to go. We have to do this. You know she’ll never be really gone, we’ll never forget anything about her.” We drive there in silence, and walk into the place arm in arm.
Looking at the closed casket is probably better then if it was open, I think to myself. There is a collage of pictures near the entrance, many including me and Mel throughout the years of our early childhood into our mid-teens. People from school are there, so is all her family (most of which Mel and I know), and time seems to pass slowly as we make our way from the pictures to the casket, and than to our seats (the chairs closest to the casket). We go through these motions over and over again, but each time someone else comes to tell us how they’re sorry for our loss. Although we aren’t related by blood, everyone knows that we were as close to sisters as possible. We hang out with Liz’s sister and my brother, but Mel and I always end up in our chairs with eyes full of tears. Molly is handling this well, although she usually doesn’t show her emotions. Plus, she is like Liz in the way that she can smile through anything and find the good in something horrible. But there are a few times where you find the four of us, Me, Mel, Molly, and Brian, sitting in adjacent chairs crying together. But when it’s time to lower the casket in the ground, the entire day seems like it went by way too fast.

Liz’s mom says some things, and the priest talks, but just before it’s time to lower the casket, her mom tells the crowd that we have something to say. Melanie starts off by saying, “As you may know, Victoria and I have been best friends with Elizabeth since we were in preschool. Ever since we were three years old, we have been inseparable. Her family and Tori’s family is just like mine, and mine is just like theirs. Even though she is gone, that still won’t change; her family will still always hold a place in our hearts. Tor and I have been asked to write a few words about Liz.”
I hold up a piece of paper that Mel and I have worked too hard to get it just right, take a deep breath, and begin. “I could honestly spend hours up here, talking about Elizabeth, saying a bunch of wonderful things about her, and sharing memories, but we don’t have hours, just a few short moments. Liz was always smiling, as many years as I have known her, I’ve rarely seen her frown. She had one of the prettiest laughs I’ve ever heard, and she loved to laugh. She was always laughing, she was always happy, and that’s how I’ll always remember her. She was caring, nice, funny and very smart. But most importantly, she was stronger then I ever was. She taught Mel and me how to be strong, how to survive life when we thought we could no longer handle it. The things she had taught us about strength and happiness has come into play the last few days, and Melanie and I try to accept that she is no longer with us. As we grew up together, our families have grown from individual families into one family. Her mom and sister have always, and will always, be considered our family. I know Liz would want us not to be sad today, but to be celebrating her life. That’s the kind of good she found in the bad. Although she is gone, Mel and I will never forget her. I’ll always remember her smile and laugh, the way she talked and the way she looked. She is more then our best friend, she is like our sister, and we’ll always love her.” Melanie gives me a hug; we’re both shaking a bit, with tears continuously rolling down our cheeks. We turn and look at the casket, a breeze blowing by. I take a deep breath, give Mel’s hand a squeeze, and know that it’s time to move on. Although she is gone, she’ll live in my heart and stay in my mind everyday, for the rest of my life.





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