Best friends forever

Erin Roof

I am getting too familiar with this strange pain. I have joked with myself and called it “Erin’s wonder workout.”

Lose your father and your best friend in less than four months and you will shed 10 pounds of tears, just like me. My father died in April and my best friend was killed Aug. 11. She was the passenger in a drunk driving accident.

Devon was my oldest and dearest friend. She was the only friend I kept in touch with who knew me in my prepubescent days. I promised she could be the maid of honor in my wedding. She promised if we were both still single at 40, we would turn lesbian and get married, because we already loved each other so much.

She was supposed to be my best friend forever. (We even exchanged the necklaces that said so in junior high. I was “best;” she was “friends.”) I don’t think the driver realized that.

Going to her funeral was one of the most difficult experiences of my life. An hour before the service started, the line into the funeral home was out to the sidewalk. Cars and trucks lined the street nearly the entire way. It was like a surreal high school reunion with rows of faces I hadn’t seen in years. The inside was crowded with so many of her family and friends I could hardly turn around. It was a sea of Kleenex.

As I entered, I saw the funeral director, a disturbingly familiar person to me these days. I spent a lot of time in his office this spring flipping through catalogs and choosing an urn for my father. He did not recognize me, which hurt my feelings. I suddenly understood why he was wearing the most expensive suit in the building. Death is big business.

Then, through my tears, I saw my best friend in her casket. She was wearing the necklace I gave her for her 18th birthday. I never dreamed when I picked it out that that would be the last time she would wear it.

I’ve noticed at funerals that people always comment about how nice the dead person looks. This is never true. I could tell the mortician did her best with Devon. She curled her hair beautifully and tried to cover the damage from the wreck.

But her lips were all wrong. They were stiff and flat — not like the lips that would part to cover half her face in a mischievous smile. These were not the lips that told me jokes and secrets and dreams.

This was a stranger. This was not my best friend.

I wanted her back.

As much as it hurt to listen to the pastor speak about Devon’s death, I sat loathing the moment when she would finish and I would walk out and never see my friend again. As I filed past her casket one last time I wanted to scream out loud. I wanted to crawl up next to Devon and hold her, will her back to life. I wanted to tell her she couldn’t leave me because it just hurts too much.

But I couldn’t do that. So I just touched her hand and cried.

I love you Devon, always.

Erin Roof is a senior magazine journalism major and a columnist for the Summer Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].