I remember the first time I spoke to you, or even heard your name. I was sitting in Macy’s* bedroom and you two were friends. It was Macy’s idea to go to your house and get drunk, even though we were only 16. I remember walking through your back gate and seeing a commission house for the first time in my life. Your brothers were drunk in the backyard, arguing and joking around, just being loud. I remember your mum answering the door and greeting us warmly while trying to hide the bruises on her face… I grew very close with your mum over time.
I remember your bedroom, the tidiest room in the house. You kept it immaculate because it was the only thing you had control of in your house. Your room and everything in it were yours and you took pride in every single possession you owned, from your clothes to your burnt CDs. You had a cage with three rats, a few cats and a dog who was like your daughter. You kept a brave face on, I’m not sure how long you’d been doing that before you met me but you were pretty good at it by that stage.
I remember forming a friendship with you that night. I never saw it coming but you became the most loyal and kind friend I have ever had… and it all began that night. Countless hours of walking the streets, at all hours, just enjoying the freedom of our teens. Cigarettes, wine and weed… we weren’t criminals, we were kids. I had spent years longing for a sister, someone to be there through my ups and downs, someone to play with and I found it in you.
I spent everyday at your house, if not with you then with your mum or your brothers or just sleeping in your bed until you came home. Your mum yelled at me like I was her own, your stepdad shook his head when he caught me smoking and I’d argue with your brothers like I’d known them my whole life. And I loved every second of it. You and your family welcomed me with open arms and I returned the love by being there for each and every one of you in both your good and dark times. I came from a quiet home with no siblings and you and your family gave me what I needed.
You were always so innocent and naïve but you taught me everything I knew nothing about, like what it’s like to have siblings and how to stand up for myself. You also showed me what it was like to wake up and have empty cupboards, to have to care for not only your younger siblings but your parents who struggled with addiction. You showed me what real strength looked like and I showed you what a real friend looked like. We would catch the train to my house and I’d fill up a bag with pasta and meat and sauce and we’d head back to your place to feed everyone. I wiped away your tears when things got too tough and you told me when I was being an idiot. We could go any period of time without seeing each other and it wouldn’t change a thing – we always greeted each other with open arms.
I was there when you met Sam*. He used to get mad because you’d let me sleep in the bed with you guys, I think I made him cry once. But he’s looked after you and I love him for that. You even made me godmother to your son. I was there for the birth. You trusted me with that role and I will be forever grateful.
Sam saved you, you know. He took you away, with your son, and now you are kicking so many goals. You aren’t trapped by poverty or addiction anymore… you have a family, you have a job, you have a home and you have a life far from the one you were bound to once upon a time. It’s been 8 years now, since you moved away… I was so mad at you. You left when I was in an abusive relationship, controlled by addiction. I gave birth without you by my side and then I became a single mother without your shoulder to lean on and slowly but surely, our phone calls became far and few in between. We lived seperate lives, now. Deep down, I hated you for leaving me behind. I know now It wasn’t hate… it was hurt.
I don’t hate you, I never could. I understand, though. I dream of the day I don’t have to watch your life through a screen… I hope our kids can grow up together. Above anything, I hope you know that I’m proud of you, from over here. You broke the cycle, babe.