There’s a story that I filed away a long, long time ago, unsure if I’d ever tell it. It’s of a person, and no, not an old boyfriend or a relative.
It’s the story of the best friend I lost. The person who was a dear friend to me in high school before vanishing from my life without explanation. This is the story of Jane.
Now, I’ve changed her name here just in case, but anyone that knew me in high school may know who I’m talking about. You may know her, and you may share this with her. I can’t control that, but I can change her name in my own story. I’ve also left out a few identifying details, just in case, but I know that if she read this… she’d know it was about her.
So, let’s talk about high school Jess, shall we? High school Jess went by Jessica. High school Jess… well, I was a nerd to the core. I took all the honors classes, worked hard at school, and knew the entire popular crowd even though they seemed to look at me with disdain. I was on both the newspaper and yearbook staff, so they were all nice to me for I think purely that reason. After all, they all wanted to be in those. I was also extremely awkward and so, so naive. I often wish I could go back and educate my high school self on things – I didn’t know so many basic life and pop-culture related things, and I was such an easy target for jokes. Basically, high school was a struggle. As a function of a rapidly growing school district, I ended up at a different high school than the vast majority of my middle school friends. I had no security net, three young sisters at home I was helping out with, and was nowhere near the sophistication level of my peers.
Then, all of a sudden, there was Jane, declaring herself my best friend. Suddenly, I wasn’t alone.
To be honest, I don’t really remember how we became friends so fast. I do remember her being in my 10th grade honors English class. I remember countless times hanging out at her house and the décor of her room. I remember her serious boyfriend that became part of my life too, just because he was around. I remember spending more time with her than almost anyone else in high school. I remember driving through rural Stafford County with her looking at the cornfields. I remember her pushing me out of my shell, and being by my side for countless occasions. I remember standing by her when tragedy struck her family. I can get to her old house without even thinking about it. I remember helping her find her new normal, countless sleepovers, and how she treated my sisters as her own. I remember when we both got into and chose Virginia Tech.
I remember going to orientation with her and my mom, picking our classes together, and getting ready for our future. She was in a program that required her to be there earlier than me and to live in a specific part of campus. So, in August 2002, we both arrived in Blacksburg, separately. The first week was a blur. We were both adjusting – I had roommate issues, was figuring out all my new freedom, and was terribly homesick for my family. Her program didn’t end up working out for her and she had to rearrange everything, finally ending up in a dorm fairly close to me, and we picked up where we left off.
Well, I thought we did. Where I spent my time going to class, studying, working, and beginning to get involved on campus… Jane spent a lot of time in her room. A lot of time. She had a much harder adjustment than I did, and never seemed to fully recover. She never went to class. At the end of the semester, her grades shocked me – and she was on academic probation. When we went home for the winter break, I was concerned for her, but hoped she would pull through it. I know now that she must’ve been having more serious issues than I could imagine at the time.
After winter break, we both went back to school… and she lasted about a week. At this point, she had gotten back together with her high school boyfriend and didn’t want to be so far from him… and she left. I was flabbergasted. I will never forget the day she left. I was trying to catch up to her to say goodbye when he came to get her, walking down the stairs when I fell and sprained my ankle. She didn’t turn back. She just left, and I hobbled to the health center in tears.
I should’ve known then.
Instead, I did what I always did – gave her the benefit of the doubt that maybe she had to go right then. She was like family to me. At that point, her family had moved away from Stafford and she couldn’t live with her boyfriend… so she stayed with my family while I was in Blacksburg. After all, I wasn’t there, so it wasn’t an issue for her to be in my room, and I trusted her. I talked to her often and she seemed to be doing okay, even talking about returning to Blacksburg in the fall.
Then one day, she was gone. Without a reason, without warning. My family came home one day to find her gone, along with all her belongings. Everything.
I instantly tried getting in touch with her in every way I knew how – email, calling, AIM (it was the early 2000s, after all) – nothing. I was met by silence at every turn. Eventually she let us know she had gone to where her family had moved, so we knew she was safe. At the same time, she wouldn’t talk to me. She wouldn’t tell me anything, if she was okay, what was going on. Suddenly, my best friend was gone.
It’s been that way ever since. I begged and pleaded in letters and emails for ages to know what had gone wrong, why she suddenly didn’t want my friendship, how to fix it. I only ever received one postcard in response… saying I didn’t do anything and we’d talk soon. Then more silence. As with anything that you don’t get results from, I eventually stopped trying and accepted the fact that I might never know what happened. It’s the biggest unanswered question in my life.
Looking back on it over 10 years later, I see things I didn’t then. There may have been other issues going on I didn’t know about. She may have had issues our friendship couldn’t ever fix, and she may have needed to completely cut off her old life to start over. I’ll never know.
Occasionally, Jane pops up on my “people you may know” list on Facebook. The first time she popped up, years ago, I requested her along with a message reaching out… and she declined. I’ve never tried again. From the few times she’s popped up, I see pictures of happiness – she’s married with a child at this point, and is smiling in her photos. All the things we talked about in high school have happened – we both grew up and have families now, but I always thought we’d stay in each other’s lives. I thought I would knew her husband and kids, and that she would know mine.
Instead, I think of her often and hope that she’s happy. I hope that she’s found what she was looking for.
I also hope against hope that one day, I’ll know the answers to my questions.
Oh Jess, I feel for you—very, very, very much. I’m in a similar boat with my old best friend. I know this is your blog, but I’ve never really gotten my story “out there,” so maybe commenting here will help. My Jane (changed her name) and I were best friends since freshman year of HS. We were like peanut butter and jelly. We parted ways at college (she went to a university in town and i went to one 3 hours away), but second semester of freshman year, she moved down and enrolled in my university and I ditched my horrible roommate and we lived together. We had four years of really great times. College ended and we still continued to be best friends—she was the maid of honor in my wedding, she visited me when I moved to Georgia; everything was great. Then I moved to Italy and everything changed…kinda. We stayed in touch—emails once or twice a week, and even phone calls. She was getting married (to a guy she met while in college), and I was excited to come back for her wedding. And then, one day in the middle of an email, she very bluntly said that I wouldn’t be part of her wedding party and that I didn’t have to come to her wedding if I didn’t want to. I was flabbergasted; that was the moment when everything changed. This may sound dramatic, but it felt like she died. We talked to each other about EVERYTHING, and then all of a sudden she wasn’t there anymore. We exchanged a few extremely awkward emails, but I haven’t actually talked to her (in any capacity) in at least three years. She’s now married and has a son. Part of me still mourns our friendship. Part of me still wants to call/text/email her often when something reminds me of her, because we shared so many years together. Maybe one day I’ll be able to write this all out like you did, but for now I’m still mourning the loss of my friend. (and now i’m sorry for hijacking your comment section!)
so I read this when you first commented and time just got away from me in responding to you. It’s so awful, especially when you have no idea why. I know exactly what you mean that it feels like they died. It’s just a big part of your life…. that’s suddenly gone in an instant. All we can do is move on, right? I’d love to know the reasoning, but I’ve accepted that I likely never will. <3
Jess!!! I don’t cry… that’s not me but this post brought tears to my eyes. I had a best friend that was such a part of me that even after 14 years of separation, I can’t help but wonder how she is. If she is happy. We drifted away for one reason but what broke us beyond repair was when she and my ex boyfriend started dating. They are still together, living out west. I hope she is happy. I hope he is a better boyfriend to her than he was to me. I hope she knows that I will always wish the best for her. I just wish I didn’t have to lose her because plan and simple, she was a huge part of me and I’ll never get that back.
It shocks me to know how often this happens – I had no idea. What happened to being there for each other?? It hurts to know how cruel women can be to each other. I hope all those things for your sake too.
Oh my goodness, I can’t imagine how hard that must have been! I would have wanted to know why too! I just don’t understand leaving someone hanging like that with no explanation!
I doubt I’ll ever understand. It was nice to get it all out though.
Ugh! What a heartbreaking story! It sounds like you were an amazing friend to her… sometimes things just happen though. SO SAD!
It was. I hope I was a good friend while it lasted.
People often glaze over the fact that friend breakups hurt just as much, if not more than boyfriend girlfriend ones. Honestly as much as I know this is impossible, you should try not to take it personally, it seems “Jane” had a lot of secrets that caused her to pull away from you.
YES! I would argue that often they hurt more, since many times they last longer than romantic relationships. It’s just hard to not know the reasons.
I love your blog. I love your posts. I love your writing style. I hate that this happened to you 🙁 I’m so sorry! You wrote it and conveyed your emotions so beautifully. It’s so hard to imagine there are such ugly people in this world. I’m sure that this entire situation is one that you’ll never truly forget. I’m sorry you were hurt this way, and hope that someday – in some fashion or another, you get the answers your deserve!
You are the sweetest, my dear. I know I’m terribly late at responding, but this really made me smile when you first posted it. I’m so glad you enjoy my writing – that seriously means so much to me. I know that I’ll never forget, but I like to think I learned from this – my friendships since have not been quite as much of me giving and the other person always taking, you know? Maybe one day I’ll get answers, but I’m not holding my breath.
Wow – that must have hurt terribly.
That sounds so strange – I wonder if something didn’t happen with your family or with her family that she really didn’t or couldn’t share with you. This is one of those things that you really really have to stop torturing yourself over because there is literally nothing more you can do. I’m sorry this happened to you though 🙁
I have no idea. I like to think I learned from it, though.
Oh Jess things like this just suck :(. I had a very similar relationship with my Grandma, my dads mom. One day out of the blue she just cut us all out of her life. I tried letter after letter but she never responded and then she died :(. Some things in life are just so hard to make sense of and why people do the things they do has to be among the most difficult I hope you get your answers some day.
It does. I can’t believe that happened with your Grandma! That’s so crazy – you would think it wouldn’t happen in family but I guess it can. I suppose all we can do is be the best we can in relationships of all kinds.
Oh wow, this breaks my heart. I can’t imagine how sad and confused you must be about this. I hope someday soon your friend can come to terms with what happened and share her story with you, at least so you’ll have peace of mind.
I still think of it fairly often, but I like to think I learned from it, you know? I don’t think I’m ever going to get the answers, but I needed to get the story out. Maybe she’ll see it one day and realize it’s about her.
This is sad. I don’t thing it is anything you did or didn’t do. I think it was a very traumatic time in her life, and in putting it all behind her, she has included you in it. Almost like she decided to start fresh and you were part of the past. I’m sorry this happened to you. I have some friends that I’ve lost touch with over the years, and I miss them a lot. I’d like to contact them, and I could as I’ve seen them on Facebook, but I’m scared. Could your friend be embarrassed and ashamed about how she ended things with you? And maybe that is why it’s easier (in her mind) just to do nothing? Also consider that if she became friends with you again, she might have to answer her husband’s questions about what happened in college and how she wasn’t living with her family but your family, and he might not know the whole story. I hope you can come to peace with this.
It could be anything…. but I feel like I reached out to her a lot. I feel like the ball is in her court now – if she ever wants to find me, I’m not too difficult to find, you know? Maybe one day. If not? Well, then I learned from it, right?