A little girl’s world was shattered when she was just ten. Not by anything desperately sad or particularly terrible, but it was rather dramatic in her young mind. You see, she had been perfectly content and happy with how her life was. She had her family and her best friends. What more could a little girl want? However, one evening, the devastating announcement came that her parents were going to switch the church they were going to and go to a new one instead. Disbelief set in quickly. What would she do without her best friends? Her best friends were from that church and she could not imagine not seeing them every week. They were all she had known. She was also scared. She was scared to meet new people and start a new routine. She cried and begged her parents not to do this but they were resolute. In her mind, her world was over. Her social life would become obsolete. What the little girl didn’t realize that yes, although her life would change, it was not going to be the desolate existence she was imagining. The change that would occur would affect her in so many ways for the rest of her life. Because on that first Sunday, she would meet another little girl who she would become fast friends with rather quickly. From their first meeting, the little girl knew she had a found a kindred spirit in this girl. The hospitality and friendliness were hard to ignore. This girl invited her over immediately and a wonderful friendship was born. They were an interesting looking pair of friends as the little girl was a taller blonde and her new friend a tiny brunette; however, it didn’t matter to them. From the first night of watching the Little Rascals to many days of being silly, sleepovers, eating Ramen noodles, and dreaming. To going and watching marching bands, her continual education of movies she had missed out on, surprise birthday parties, and being tortured by her friend’s brothers (of course by torture, this little girl had still had a blast). This little girl felt so welcome and adored by her new friend’s family. The list was an endless stream of times where happiness was always felt. This friendship went along these lines for three years. It was a strong friendship. Those were some of the most important years in that little girl’s life but she didn’t realize that at the time. She didn’t realize her best friend would be one of the most unconditional, most thoughtful, and would be someone with the biggest heart she would ever encounter in her life. Yes, she realized she had a great best friend, but she wouldn’t realize and understand the value of that friendship until years later. After the first three years of their blooming and strong friendship, the blonde girl started becoming restless. She was becoming more self absorbed and wanted to be back in the lives of her old friends. She finally made the decision to go back to them. She wanted to be a part of their lifestyle so badly. It seemed a bit more glamorous to her. However, she firmly believed her strong and newest friendship would hold steady. How naive of her. How blind she was to the level of selfishness she was reaching. She was too busy trying to fit back in with her old friends that she put the friendship with someone so wonderful on the back burner. Eventually their friendship would begin to fade. The little blonde girl, who was now a teenager, could not fit her friend in her life anymore. She became too busy and concerned with other, less important,activities in her life. She would see her friend from time to time over the years but it wasn’t the same. She would go hang out from time to time and even went to the Christmas dance with her friend’s group. Yes, they would have fun times but that’s all they were; fleeting moments in the vast expanse of teenage years. After a few more years, the blonde girl, at seventeen, and on the verge of adulthood, started missing her friend. She missed the realness of their old friendship; she missed the kindness. She made the decision to start making an effort. She started making time for her friend again. She started dropping by and seeing her from time to time. The effort was paying off. She felt that she, once again, had a true friend. The thing that astounded her the most; made her realize the value of her friend, was that after all these years, she was accepted back as if nothing changed. It didn’t matter that there were lost times. Her friend welcomed her back unconditionally as if that last few years of being apart had never happened. Her friend was not only outwardly beautiful, but she had the inner beauty that most people could not match. The world seemed right again as they began to re-establish their friendship. But then, once again, selfish ways would cause the now seventeen year old girl to make decisions that would end up haunting her for a long time. What she didn’t realize, what she couldn’t know, how much it would cost her down the road. She didn’t care much for church those days. She still doesn’t. But she was willing to go with her friend again, just like the old days, for nostalgic reasons. However, a better offer in the form of a boy came along the night before. She had decided to hang out with him instead, causing her to be out way too late and missing church. This happened a few more times with a different boy that was friends with both of the girls. Unfortunately, she had already had a boyfriend at the time but was terrified by his pronouncement of love for her after only three months as well as his talks of marriage. She was only seventeen. So she began to seek solace elsewhere. But the fear of breaking it off with her boyfriend was too great. She wasn’t sure what she wanted and she had a lot of outside pressure that she should stay in the relationship. She felt lost. She didn’t know where to turn or what to do. She finally decided to stay with her boyfriend and stopped her other pursuits. She felt it was her only option at this point. She believed that maybe her life would be better, and maybe she would fit in more with her original circle of friends. She wasn’t truly happy but she believed maybe she was meant to just settle. She began to let the controlling ways of her boyfriend slowly take over her life. Her once re-established friendship began to wane yet again with her dear friend. Once her boyfriend finally found out about her various pursuits from earlier in the year, he demanded she cease all communication with her friend, because in his mind, she was the source, as to why his girlfriend was wild. She begged him not to be that way. She explained over and over and over again that her sweet friend had nothing to do with her wildness. She told him that her friend even advised her on several occasions she needed to stop her pursuits or break it off with her boyfriend. But his mind was made up. He threatened to break it off if she didn’t do as he said. In hindsight, she should have just let it be broken off. But she was so brainwashed and consumed by him she didn’t have the strength to. So with great turmoil and sadness, with regret and confusion, the now almost eighteen year old girl cut her once best friend completely out of her life. She didn’t speak to her, she didn’t see her, and she avoided her. Because she was terrified if she was weak and gave into the temptation to talk to her, she would lose everything. Years would pass. She missed her friend’s graduation. She missed birthdays. She missed meeting her boyfriend. She missed her wedding. And she missed the birth of her beautiful daughter. She had missed some of the most important moments in her friend’s life. And how sad that made her. She herself was married now. Married to that same boy she had allowed to have complete control over her life. Then the news came; the devastating and inconceivable news that her precious friend had cancer. Cancer. The dreaded word no one ever wants to hear. A brain tumor had been found. That girl’s world was shattered again, but it was shattered in a dark and terrible way. She wanted to go to her friend immediately and beg for forgiveness. But her husband would not allow it. After all of these years, he stood firm with his thoughts on the matter. He told her she had no reason to go because her friend wasn’t dying. She was distraught to say the least. She didn’t know what to do. The pain she had in her heart was unbearable. How did she let this happen? How had her life come to this? Her frustration with the situation increased. She grew weary of living under his thumb. She didn’t know what to do anymore. She once again felt lost and she felt heartbroken. She was also angry; angry at herself for being so weak. She was angry at him for being beyond reason. Resentment towards him set in slowly. She kept receiving updates from her sister regarding her friend’s condition over the next months. It was worsening. There seemed to be nothing that could be done. After several months, it became clear her friend wasn’t going to make it. She finally persuaded her husband that it was time for her to be able to visit her once best friend. He finally conceded with conditions. She couldn’t go alone. She would need to go with her sisters. Angry at his continual stubbornness regarding this situation, she began to grow bitter. However, she was going to take this chance and go. The day she walked in and saw her friend sitting there in the familiar family room, her heart broke. She looked the same yet different. She didn’t know what to say. She was glad her sisters were there. She felt rescued. She had no words. No words to explain her terrible behavior the past years, no begging for forgiveness. She was broken inside. She had missed everything in her friend’s life. She should have been there for her from the beginning. After that visit, she decided to write her friend a letter. She was always better at expressing her thoughts and feelings that way. She wrote to her, apologizing and trying to explain. She knew she didn’t deserve her forgiveness but she needed to tell her why she had been absent for so long. She needed to tell her how truly sorry she was. She finished the letter and mailed it without having her husband knowing. She deleted the file from her computer just to be safe though now she wished she hadn’t. She wanted to see the words again that she had written to her friend. Although her friend was living longer than expected, she eventually began to deteriorate over time. She tried to be there for her as much as she was allowed. She texted her and tried to stay in touch. She admired her beautiful brunette. She still managed to stay active and was even traveling. But that didn’t surprise this blonde girl. Her tiny friend had always been strong and tenacious. One day, her friend needed someone to stay with her all day and asked the blonde friend to come stay with her. The petite brunette could not know or understand how much this would mean to her blonde friend. The blonde girl was touched beyond words. She felt a tiny ray of hope that just maybe her dear friend was recognizing the love the blonde had in her heart for her dear friend. The blonde also felt very privileged and grateful her sick friend would call upon her in her time of need. She rearranged her schedule and didn’t care what her husband said. She was going to stay with her friend no matter what. And so she did just that. Upon her arrival, her heart broke and she felt sick at her stomach at the deteriorating condition of her friend. She no longer looked the same. The blonde’s heart was greatly saddened. But she did not let her friend see her sorrow. She stayed with her and her daughter and was incredibly grateful she had that day with them. It was a day that would always stand out in her mind and a day she would treasure forever. At the end of the year, her friend was admitted to the hospital, where she spent her twenty-fourth birthday. The blonde came with her sister to visit her for her birthday. She was determined to not miss yet another one of her friend’s birthdays. Her friend was able to be discharged home rather quickly but then found herself back in the hospital not many days later. The blonde came to visit her there, even if she wasn’t able to see her. She wanted to be there for the family as well. Her friend would eventually be moved to hospice care. The blonde tried to visit as often as she could. She had long given up on obtaining her husband’s approval. She was not going to let him stop her any longer. She should have never let him stop her before. The seed of resentment and anger was already there amidst so many other problems with him. It was very hard to see her friend in such a place. It was difficult because it was just another sad reminder that she would not have long to live. Even if her friend wasn’t awake or alert, the blonde wanted to be there for her. She wanted to be there for her friend’s dear family. She was glad she was able to do those visits. She wished she would have done more. And then, on the day of the twenty first of January, she received a call from another long time friend, who was also friends with her brunette. She had died. She had fought so bravely and strongly for sixteen months. But now she was gone. The world went dark for the blonde. Her broken heart was complete. She immediately went to her friend who had passed. She needed to see her one more time. The tears kept flowing. They could not be stemmed. She entered the place and found her friend’s parents, hugging them, and not wanting to let them go. She entered her friend’s room with the girl’s mom. Her mother broke down. The blonde held her up and tried to contain her own emotions. She felt so sick. Her heart wouldn’t stop hurting. How could this be? How can her once dearest and closest friend be gone? She didn’t want to accept it, but the evidence lay before her. In those moments, her regrets, her anger, and her disappointment in herself rushed in like tidal wave. She could not breathe. How had it come to this? She had missed all of the most important things in her friend’s life, yet she was present at her death. How had she let the blindness of being in love keep her from such a wonderful person? The nausea set in more deeply. The tightness in her chest was unbearable. She refused to leave that place until the end. She could not leave. She needed to be close by. Her friend would never truly know the regret the blonde felt. The complete and utter disappointment in herself that she had failed her petite friend was ever present. The time before the funeral was a blur to the blonde. The showing was long and painful. She was glad to be there though. She wanted to be surrounded by those who had loved her friend and wanted to be near the family. The funeral was even harder. That is when the reality that her friend was truly gone, began to set in. She didn’t want to leave the cemetery when it was over; she wanted to stay as long as she could. She wanted to, once again, beg for her friend’s forgiveness even if her friend could not hear her. She wanted to tell her the pain she felt. She wanted to tell she wished she could go back in time and make the right decisions. But what could she do? She had to leave. And by leaving, a piece of her heart was left behind at that grave. Mary’s grave. Those words shouldn’t be real. But they are. A little over four years have gone by since her passing. So much has changed. The blonde is no longer married. She is working hard to make herself a better person and have a better life. She is working hard to make the right decisions. She always tries to be kind, be unselfish, and have a compassionate heart. She tries to make a difference in people’s lives when she can. No longer does she allow anyone to control her. And she always stays strong now in what she knows is right. She never wants to change from these ways. She only wishes she would have been this person years ago. She still feels great amounts of regret and pain regarding her dear friend Mary. It will be a burden she will always have to bear. She has no closure with this, nor does she think she ever will. Her heart still feels raw when she thinks about how such reckless decisions from long ago still haunt her. She thinks about how blind she was when it came to thinking she had been in love and how she let that affect her life so negatively. She had one of the greatest friends anyone could ever hope to have, and she had to toss her aside. She finally gained the courage to write about her pain. She needed to get it off of her heart; all of the pain and thoughts that tortured her endlessly. This is the atonement for her in a way. She has hopes that this might give her even the slightest bit of freedom. Her regrets are strong. Her only true hope that the passage of time will help to calm her soul, even if just a little.