When I think of what Janet means to me, it is of a best friend. Janet got me. She saw the real me, in all my ugly glory and she loved me all the better, the misfit toy that I am. Time I spend with most people feels like effort. But not with Janet. Janet was easy. She was an exhalation. She was the person with whom I could stop pretending I was something, someone, else. In Janet’s presence, I could finally relax. And be me. And laugh and love.
When we were apart, I missed her. I missed her physical presence the way a lover would. That ache to see her would build until I simply had to make it a point to seek her out. It was in her presence that I felt most like myself.
The uniquely amazing thing is that if you knew Janet, knew her well, you would tell me, “no, Nola, she was my best friend. Not yours.” And you’d be right, and so would I. Because when Janet loved, she loved fully and completely. When the light of her love was focused on you, it was the light of a thousand suns. She had the uncanny gift to be able to be that committed to that many best friends. And to have that light of her sun beaming on all of us, warming our souls. None of us ever felt cheated or shorted. She was very generous with her love and with words to express that love. She knew how to make you feel her love. All of it. She gave you all of her love. In every phone call, in every hug. In everything. She gave all of her love fully. And she gave it over and over to all those she loved.
So, yes, Janet was my best friend. And Janet was the best friend of many others. Her quantity of best friends never diminished the quality of her friendship to any of us.
I was lucky to have her close to me these last three years. I will miss her all the rest of my days. But even already in my continued state of sadness, it is her life, her laugh, her love that I think of when her name is mentioned. It’s like she’s just at her condo at the beach. Available in that she will always be with me but not physically present. Leaving an unending ache in the hearts of those who loved her just to have her in the same room again. Leaving our world just a little less shiny, less lively, less humorous but all the better for her ever having been in it.