BY SARAH NIGBOR
A friend like Meghan
No matter how long it’s been since I’ve seen my friend Meghan, we fall right back into comfortable conversation and pick up right where we left ou. Like no time has passed, like she doesn’t live in Seattle, like we see each other every day. We never run out of things to say or have awkward pauses. I hope everyone has at least one friend like that.
Meghan and I grew up down the road from each other. When we first met, I was 8 and she was 6. At first, I didn't know what to think of her. She was a rambunctious, boisterous, brash little girl at my bus stop. I think I was a little scared of her even, because her personality was way bigger than her short stature. I don’t quite remember how it happened, but we soon became fast friends and were inseparable.
Every night, I waited impatiently for dinner to be over and the dishes to be washed so I could dry them and escape outside to see Meghan. We were the queens of Saddle Club Road and Barefoot Lane, cruising the neighborhood on our bikes, looking for adventures along the way. We spent hours in the creek near our houses, which had a clean, sandy bottom and ouered respite from the humid summer weather. We built forts out of rocks along the creek bank under the bridge or dared each other to walk barefoot down gravel roads in order to “toughen our feet.” We dared each other to ride our bikes “no hands” down the big hill with the “S” curve at the bottom. That turned out to be a big mistake when Meghan fell and scraped her scalp.
In the winter, we spent hours building snow forts or sledding, oblivious to the cold, wet snow soaking our clothes and gloves. If the weather was too nasty, we’d stay inside playing Nintendo, which was foreign to me until I went to Meghan’s house. Her mom would buy us non-alcoholic sparkling grape juice, which was always such a fancy treat.
The rule was always I had to be home before dark. How times have changed! We roamed our rural neighborhood freely, with no fear of being snatched away or hurt. As the deepening dusk turned toward night, I’d high- tail it home on my little Huuy bike, knowing I better not be late or Grandma wouldn’t let me go to Meghan’s the next night.
As we got older, our adventures together changed. We were members of the same 4-H club and looked forward to showing our exhibits at the Pierce County Fair every year. We didn’t run in the same friend group at school, but that didn’t matter as we were always inseparable outside of school. When Meghan briefly moved to her dad's house in the Cities, I was devastated. I was lost without her and so happy when she came back. Time marched on and we traded our grape juice for pots of couee at Perkins, where we were allegedly doing homework. Our bikes were retired and soon we had cars that took us further from our childhood days on Saddle Club Road.
Together we have weathered it all. I’ve seen her hit rock bottom and dragged her up out of the abyss and she has done the same for me. Break-ups, divorce, parent troubles, family secrets, drug addiction, abuse. The good, the bad, and everything in-between. It’s been full of twists, valleys and peaks.
About 15 years ago, my best friend moved to Seattle. It was something she had to do for herself, and I knew it, but it was so hard to know she wouldn’t be just down the road. She has built a wonderful life for herself and I’m incredibly proud of her. We don’t talk as much as we used to, but whenever we do, we pick right up where we left ou. I saw her for the first time in five years last week. She came home because her mom, who had been battling cancer, was taken by ambulance to the hospital. She died two days later with Meghan and her brother by her side. A more gentle, sweet soul never lived and I will always remember her mother’s kindness toward this little neighbor girl.
As we drove around last week, traversing the back roads while reminiscing and visiting and trying to come to terms with her mom’s death, it was like time had stopped and we were little girls again, trying to figure out the world and our place in it. She will overcome this too, but losing a parent is hard. I know she’ll be okay, but I wish I could take her pain away.
There’s been far too many deaths, memorials and funerals to plan, obituaries to write, and grief to process this year. But with a friend like Meghan, I know I’ll be okay too.