13. A Challenge You've Overcome
The biggest challenge that I have overcome is losing my best friend. We didn't fall out, she didn't decide she didn't want to be my friend anymore, she didn't move away, we didn't "just stop talking". Courtney died.
When I was 16 and Courtney was 15, she started having awful headaches- the doctors kept telling her they were just migraines and would send her home with pills. After about 6 months of constant headaches and suffering, Courtney was diagnosed with having a brain tumour- malignant, stage 3 cancer. She did the treatments including chemotherapy and radiation. She had brain surgery to remove the majority of the tumour. She got really bad for a while. And then she got better. Courtney entered remission a year after her diagnosis and remained in remission for 8 months.
She called me from London sobbing... the cancer was back and worse then ever. Her whole body was riddled with the disease. It wasn't just her brain anymore, it was her organs and even in her blood. She did chemo and radiation again but eventually the cancer took her life. On June 12, 2013 my best friend was taken from me.
Everyone expected it; it wasn't a surprise. She had her wish from the Make a Wish Foundation, she said her goodbyes etc. The funeral was a nice service. Courtney and I had met each other in theatre and instantly bonded over our love of music and acting. The choir she had performed with from the high school she attended sang at her funeral absolutely beautifully. Her mom hugged me and I cried.
We held a private little memorial for her in the auditorium of the place we put on our performances for theatre. I was asked to speak... I won't share that here as the words I spoke need to stay in that room with the people who understand- who knew her.
I have a phobia of illness. When Courtney got sick the first time I pulled away a little bit- it was easy since we were at different high schools. When she went into remission we immediately made plans to hangout. When she got sick again I pulled away again... I have never regretted anything more in my entire life.
At her memorial, after my speech where I touched upon that regret, her mom talked to me privately. She shared a written letter from Courtney to me, who understood everything. Courtney knew me better than anyone ever knew me and maybe ever will know me. I still regret not being there for her during her last moments of life, but knowing that she not only understands, but also forgives me is the greatest gift.
Losing a best friend is like losing a part of yourself. I have never known anyone like Courtney- she was gorgeous, kind, passionate, and even though she never made it to adulthood, she carried herself like an adult. She never cared what people thought of her because she knew she was doing what she wanted to do, always. She could have been a movie star or a broadway legend. She would have been if she hadn't been cheated of her life.
I can't describe the pain that losing a best friend brings upon a person. It is the deepest pain I have ever felt. I take comfort in the fact that she is no longer suffering, but even now, 2 years later, I still feel the urge to call her when something happens- good or bad- I still feel like driving to her house when I'm bored and just want to watch a movie. I still think about her all the time, and I hope I never stop. I take comfort knowing that I can still see what her face looked like pre-cancer, I can still hear in my mind the way her voice floated out the notes of a song, I can still feel the way she would squeeze with her right arm and rub my back with her left whenever she hugged me. I'm terrified that one day I might forget.
If you have ever lost someone, feel free to reach out to me. You are not alone in your pain, and I am sorry for your loss.
Thanks for reading, xo, Katelyn