This year marks the 15th anniversary of the worst break up I have ever experienced. I am still unable to let it go.
Toni had been my best friend for 18 years. She sat 2 seats behind me in the 7th and 8th grades. She understood me and I her.
We were the sisters we each never had. Her birthday was this past week.
It was she who introduced me to the world of fashion models, 16 Magazine, Hallmark Cards, and Hello Kitty. As teenagers, her mom would take us to the movies. Our phone conversations back then would go on for hours as I listened in rapt attention to her adventures with boyfriends and parties, because my mom didn’t allow me to go out with boys.
Even after high school we remained close friends and saw each other on some weekends. I remember one weekend we went to the Mall. We had almost no money between us and after a few hours of window shopping, all we could afford was one bag of popcorn and a bottle of water, and all we had left was bus fare to get back to my house.
As young adults, with my car and a decent income, we could afford to go places. She never really had a job, but I didn’t care. We’d go to the beach with boyfriends or just go to parties with each other.
Then 15 years ago, when my fiancé and I decided to get married, Toni was to be in my bridal party, and share in my joy on the happiest day of my life.
And that, as they say, was how the fight started.
Toni was notorious for being late for everything. She once asked me to write a letter to give to her college professor stating the reason her assignment was a week late. As long as I’d known her, she had no respect for time or deadlines, hers or anyone else’s. I mean, we turned up at another lifelong friend’s wedding after she started walking down the aisle. We would arrive at the movies 15 minutes after it started. Once, I waited at her house for 3 hours for her to get ready for another friend’s birthday party. I used to lie to her and tell her that an event would start two hours earlier than it was scheduled to so that we could arrive on time.
For my morning wedding, the plan was for the bridal party to sleep over at one of our houses the night before and get ourselves ready for the event in the morning. I knew I couldn’t trust her to get to the church on time by herself.
My wedding dress had already been purchased from David’s Bridal. I bought the dress material for the maid of honor and the two bridesmaids. The other two girls would pay the seamstress to make their dresses and I’d pay for Toni’s. I had a very professional and reliable seamstress who did everything on schedule. I gave her address to the other two girls and knew I could rely on them to follow through. I personally took Toni to the seamstress and had her measured for her dress. This was October and my wedding date was in December, which was also her busiest time of the year. I was working with her schedule as much as she was working with mine.
But we never got that far. Toni seemingly disappeared off the face of the earth afterwards. Two weeks later, when the dressmaker was ready for the first fitting, I could not find my friend anywhere. I called all the usual numbers, called her mom, left messages, went to her house. No sign whatsoever.
The other two girls had their first and second fittings. Toni still didn’t have her first and neither she nor her mother were returning any of my calls. Even the dressmaker was calling me.
Four weeks passed with me panicking and no Toni in sight. This was weird because when she wanted me she would call my work number, home number, and cell phone number to reach me.
With less than two weeks remaining before my wedding day, I asked the dressmaker if there was still time for a substitute. She said yes, and I asked another friend around the same size as Toni to fill in. Then I called Toni’s home number and left a message that I had gotten someone else to do the job. I also told the dressmaker, who by now was a bit annoyed, but understanding, that even if Toni turned up she wasn’t to fit her for the dress. I was bringing someone else.
I suppose this was the impetus she needed to finally get in touch with me. Monday morning, as I was taking her replacement to get fitted for the dress, my dear friend Toni was calling me, quite upset. Without any explanations of her whereabouts, she proceeded to tell me how embarrassed she was that she had gotten to the seamstress just now, only to be told that she was not to be fitted for the dress. I ignored her and kept asking where the heck she had been all this time.
“Away,” was the only response I would receive.
“Away?” I shouted over the phone in disbelief. “Away where?”
“Just away!” she repeated.
What happened thereafter was endless shouting back and forth. One of us hung up on the other, I can’t remember who. Then her mom called me, telling me what a wicked person I was to do such a thing to my best friend of so many years. I also asked her where the heck she had been. Why had no one returned any of my calls for weeks? They both completely failed to answer any of my questions.
We never spoke again before the wedding and she never turned up to the event either. She never told me what kept her “away” for those weeks.
And so, with the wedding programs listing her name and someone else in her place on the day, I walked down the aisle without my very best friend.
I tried contacting her a few weeks later to resolve this, after we would have both cooled down. I had her on the phone twice (this was before caller ID) and both times she said she was “busy” and “promised to call back.” Both times she never did.
I never saw or spoke to her again.
Each year, I remember her birthday in October. Later on, when my wedding anniversary rolls around, I am reminded of the break up with my best friend. I often wonder how her life is going.
We haven’t been in each other’s lives these past 15 years to share our joys and sorrows and I still miss her terribly.