It's summertime and my best friend Pomona and I were running the sandy, squishy beach at the edge of the water, in the middle of July. That perfect crash of waves, with the warmth of sun on our freckled shoulders. I watched as a rather grumpy looking old man buys an ice cream and cracks a smile. Something about summer makes even the stingiest people get out and buy an ice cream. Everything seemed right.
“My grandma walks faster than you run Rhea!” Pomona exclaims as she pulls me from my happy little daydream with her sarcastic humor. That's one of the reasons she's my best friend, she balances me out. Who knows what kind of zoned out weirdo I'd be without my best friend there to pull me back to reality.
We finally reached the end of our run and had my mom pick us up. We jammed out in the car to our favorite songs, and took enough snapchats to use up all of my data. We arrived at her house, we did our tricky hand shake that took days to perfect and said see you later. Little did I know that would be the last handshake we would do.
A week later and I hadn’t even gotten a text from Pomona which was odd because we talked almost every day. My mom had been acting weird too and was being distant. I texted Pomona and I told her how weird my mom had been acting and she only responded with “yeah”s or “oh” and that started to bother me. So I asked her what her deal was and why she hadn't talked to me all week and she said she couldn't tell me. We argued back and forth about why she couldn't tell me and saying that best friends tell each other everything. She just continued to tell me she couldn't tell me why and it was better if I didn't know everything. We didn't talk at all after that. Why couldn't I have just let it go. She didn't talk to me or hang out with me for the rest of the summer.
It was now the very end of August and the first day of school. Its weird how when you don't want to see someone they are the first person you notice. I noticed Pomona right off the bat talking to Tyler, a good friend to the both of us. Pomona leaning against the wall, laughing at Tyler impersonating the teacher that kicked him out of class an hour earlier. Pomona was everything I wasn't. She had her beautiful long, straight, blonde hair and I had the short, brown, frizzy,untamed coils. She had a flawless smile with the whitest teeth and I’d had braces 3 times and they still looked crooked. She had the perfect girly wardrobe and I was a tomboy who’s daily wear was sweatpants and basketball shorts. She was short and petite and I was the tallest in my grade. Thinking this all in my mind I realized how much I’d missed my best friend the last few weeks which must have showed on my face because Pomona approached me.
“Hey I’m really sorry that I haven't talked to you lately….. I've been…...busy.” Pomona shakily says. “Too busy to send a quick “hey” to your “best friend”, why can't you just tell me what's going on with you?” I sharply asked. “Nothing” Pomona answers. “Quit lying there's obviously something going on my mom has been moping around ever since your mom called and you won't even talk to me anymore !” I had snapped. The feelings of being out of the loop of whatever was going on had erupted. Pomona looked as if she was welding up and ran away without replying.
Pomona wasn't at school for the next two weeks. She texted me and asked if I could come over in a few minutes. I got to her house as soon as I could. When I knocked on the door her mom answered.
“Rhea!” She kindly says as she pulls me into a hug. Pomona's mom was like a second mom, I spent so much time there I knew which things were in which cupboards.
“Pomona's in the living room waiting for you.”
“Thank you” I replied with a smile. I walked to the very familiar living room but somehow it felt so different but not as different as Rhea. There was something so off about everything. Why couldn't someone just tell me what is going on? I shook the question from my head before it made me agitated.
We sat in awkward silence for what felt like forever until we both said “ I’m sorry” at the exact same time. We smiled at each other and laughed.
“I've really missed you at school I can't stand tyler when your not there to tell him to shut up.” We chuckle.
“How are you?” I concerningly ask.
“I'm okay thanks and I know i've missed you guys too, like crazy, I should be back on monday.”
“That's good, hey can I ask you something?”
“Are we okay?”
“Yes and i'm so sorry I ran off and have not been in contact it's killing me to not tell you what's happening but I definitely will tell you, it just has to be the right timing.”
I sigh. “ I'm okay with that I just want my best friend back.”
On monday Pomona never showed up for school. I went through the day moping. There had to be something wrong. She wouldn't say she was going to be at school and then not show up. I knew my inquiry had been tragically correct as soon as I stepped off the bus.
My mom had the most pathetic look on her face when I walked in. There was a platter of my favorite candies on the counter. There was a paper underneath it. As I picked up the note,along with a sweet tart rope, my mom left the room into hers and closed the door behind her. I sat there for a while staring at the note wondering what words were hiding for me on the other side. I slowly flipped it over.
Dear Rhea (my bestest friend).... I stopped reading. The uneasy pit in my stomach got worse. I resumed reading. I’m sorry I didn't tell you sooner what was going on and i’m sorry i’m not doing this in person but I just couldn't. I am sick. The reason I didn't tell you was because I didn't know how. I have Chondrosarcoma. Big word huh? But I am going to make it I just know it. I’m so sorry I didn't tell you sooner, and I don't want you to worry i’ll be just fine. I have been gone because at times its painful.I've also had a lot of appointments. I know you and I know your probably worried about me but trust me i'm going to be just fine. Don’t worry. Love Ya - Pomona
How could she tell me to not worry. My best friend has cancer. How could I have been so selfish. The pit in my stomach worsened. I should have forgotten the whole argument because now...The pit in my stomach made its way to my throat. Now my best friend might…The thought crippled me. I ran to the bathroom. When the pit felt smaller, I sobbed. I sobbed so loudly my mom came out and cradled me in her arms. I sat there for many long minutes. Until I felt guilty. Here I am sitting here crying like a baby over the thought of my friend dying. Pomona was one of the strongest girls I knew. I should have faith that she'll be okay. I should also be spending as much time with her as possible.
I got up. I walked to the door, but before I closed the door behind me, I turned to my mom. She gave me a nod. She understood.
I knocked at her door and wiped the tears from my red hot cheeks. Pomona answered. I pulled her into a hug and squeezed as hard as I could. She squeezed back harder. It took everything in me to not cry.
“Lets go.” She says as if she knew I was struggling to hold back my emotions. We grabbed our bikes and rode for hours, not saying anything. We didn't need to. She understood how guilty I felt. I understood how she didn't want me to bring it up or worry. We pulled up so fast we left tire marks in her driveway.
“Jeez your slower at biking then running… and that's slow.” She remarks. I laugh. Once we got inside, we went upstairs into her room. “My mom left knowing you would come over. She apologizes but she said she wouldn't be able to hold it together.”
“That's okay.” I say sharply wanting to desperately drop the subject.
We spent the next whole month together everything was back to normal and we had the best time. I tried to keep the fact that my best friend was battling cancer out of my mind. Every night it snuck its way into my thoughts. I would sit and cry. Why was I crying. She’s alive. She’s going to be okay. I would reassure myself.
October came quickly. I was staring out the window in class. Pomona had a doctor appointment that day. The class phone rang. Everyone in class picks up their heads hoping it’s for them, hoping something was going to save them from the boring lecture Mr.Jones was giving about the civil war. Mr.Jones picks up the phone and makes eye contact with me. This isn’t good. I thought as I start to gather my things. “Rhea to the office.” He says as he puts the phone down and picks up with the lecture.
I approach the office. My mom was standing there. Crying. This really can’t be good. My mom walks me to the car. I didn't ask where we were going or what was happening. I didn't want to know.
Twenty minutes later we were walking through the doors of the hospital. Up the elevator to floor 4, room 29. I walk in. Pomona was laying there. So weak. So thin. So sad. She sat up and attempted to fix her hair. “Hey.” She tried to say it like nothing was wrong. I couldn’t say anything. After shoving my tears way down, I managed to reply.
“Hey.” “What am I going to have to go get you a binky, you baby.” She laughs. She was still her sarcastic self. We talked for a little while about how i needed a makeover and how I should “totally” date tyler. Pomona knew tyler liked me and always thought I liked him but I found him kinda annoying at times. That's pomona always sticking her nose where it didn't belong. We had to go shortly after so Pomona could sleep.That night I went home and sulked. I knew she wasn't going to get better and the sooner I accepted that the better.
I spent the next week with Pomona. Everyday. Everynight was the same, no sleep.
It was Thursday October 12th. I had spent the whole day with Pomona and we talked about how when we grew up we were going to live in a huge mansion with dogs everywhere of every breed. It was my favorite day with Pomona. At one point I was having so much fun laughing with her that I almost forgot how sick she was and felt happy. After me and Pomona were done dying of laughter I was told it was time to go home.
I layed in my bed that night reflecting everything about pomona. The phone rings. I knew. I just knew. She was gone. My mom walks to my door and nods. I felt the salt of tears sting the top of my upper lip.
Why is it when someone dies everyone just says “It's going to be okay, she’s in a better place now, she’s not hurting anymore.” But everything wasn’t going to be okay, I want to be with her. She was the only person, the only person I had. She knew everything and knew how to fix things. She listened. How could I go on with even a semi normal life without her.
A few days after her funeral I went to go talk to her. I walked up to her headstone. I sat there for awhile. Gosh I missed her so much. Soon I started to hear her. Jeeezz Rhea. Your so depressing. Who died. Lighten up. I could hear her unique chuckle as she laughed at herself. I guess I wouldn't be getting away from her sarcastic humor. Before I go for good you need to move on also. You gotta move from the pampers to pull ups. I know you miss me. I miss you too but you have to live your life. Please do it for me. Grow up and live in that mansion with all of our dogs for me. And I promise to be there for you throughout life. I promise to still be your best friend till we meet again. Best friends forever remember? Now go live, and humor me and talk to tyler. I am the matchmaker of matchmakers you know. I love you best friend. Goodbye. Goodbye I smile. I would move on. For my best friend.