Finding Friendship, Part 2
Anyone in my family and hers would know where this title comes from: a movie my best friend Kennedy and I made when she came from Little Rock to visit one chilly November of my eighth grade year. “Finding Friendship” we called it, our film production debut. Kennedy claimed the title of director and production manager so she could say that “Weezy Works” made the film. “Weezy” was her nickname, and it fit her perfectly.
Memories like these that once I held so dear, that were tinted a happy yellow in the file cabinet in my brain, are now tinted a sad shade of blue.
All the memories I ever made with Kennedy have been tinted blue since she died.
Kennedy Ann Hogue was and will always be my eternal best friend; my sister and my rock. Losing family
God feels the utter heartbreak at the very core of my entire being.
members is hard, but a friend from birth? Someone my age, born just about eight weeks after I was, dead before I could snap my fingers? Seventeen years of friendship, seventeen years to grow up together and learn just how terribly fantastic life can be. We had plans to grow old together so our children could carry on our legacy of an epic friendship that knew no limits.
When God takes away your best friend you tend to be a tad bitter, am I right? I definitely was. Well, am.
And I’ve had a lot of questions, like: “Why did You take her away from me so soon? When I needed her most?” “She was fine last night, why didn’t she wake up?” “God, answer me: Why did You do this to me, as if my life isn’t hard enough?”
“Are You even listening?”
He hears every word, every curse under my breath, every scream and yell directed at Him when my prayers slowly turn into one-sided fights. When my soft tears turn into ugly cries and I ruin my shirt sleeves with snot. He hears the late-night stifled cries into my pillows when I’m trying not to remember every single memory at two in the morning on a school night.
He sees every day that I refuse to do my homework, would rather fail all my classes, decide not to care. He feels the utter heartbreak at the very core of my entire being. But when He finally decides to answer, for me it’s insanely hard to hear it.
Kennedy was sick with a disease called ulcerative colitis. I watched her deteriorate before my eyes for a whole year when I went to visit her in the hospital. I remember how boney she felt when I hugged her for the first time after she began to waste away. But it was only about two months ago when it hit me that she was dying. We were FaceTiming one night while I was doing my algebra homework and she said to me, “I’m sorry you have to watch this.”
“What?” I said, distracted.
“I know it’s hard to watch your best friend die.” Neither of us spoke for a long time.
After she died, I realized how much of a terrible friend I’d been. I’d missed five calls from her and six FaceTime requests, and I’d broken our streak on Snapchat. Perhaps the worst crimes you could commit as a best friend in the twenty-first century. Worst of all, I hadn’t gone to see her in what would be her final moments to walk this earth. And the sobering fact is, when I get home from school I won’t be getting a call from “Weezy” to tell me about her day. Those are the times when it hits me: Kennedy’s dead, and she's not coming back. Those are the thoughts that consume all my waking moments.
I’ve been taking a lot of walks lately, regardless of what the weather’s like. I just feel like I need an escape because my room — my safe haven — is covered with pictures and notes and memorabilia we’ve shared over the years. I never thought a Polaroid snap shot would make my stomach hurt. Everything in there reminds me of her. What can you expect a girl to do? Run away from her problems, that’s what.
When I walk, I rant to God and feel my mind spin around in never-ending circles. I’ll curse at Him and cry and lose my balance on the sidewalk. I’ll rant on and on about how upset I am and then when I’m out of words, I’ll rant to Kennedy. I’ll be mad and then feel guilty, happy and then sad, hopeful and then hopeless.
When you’re grieving, the people who care about you want to help; to have just the right words to make it all better.
Like: “Keep your head up.” “What a trooper you’ve become.” “Stay strong.” “Time will heal your broken heart.” “You’ll be over this in no time, just stay positive.”
“Just give it time.”
“Just give it time...”
I appreciate everyone’s support. I really do. But, come on. At least tell me the truth: It’s not gonna get better, but it’ll scab over. It’s gonna suck for a long time. And I’ll probably never completely heal, but I will become stronger even if it’s just by an inch.
But for now, I’m having some pretty dark thoughts. I feel like I’m falling down the rabbit hole but there’s no White Rabbit to tell me that he’s late, no Mad Hatter or March Hare to share tea with me and no Cheshire Cat to guide me down all the wrong roads; in fact, there’s no Wonderland at all. Earlier this year I shared with John Ray and Alex Cornett, as well as a few others, that I was beginning to lose faith. The walls were crumbling. Kennedy’s death destroyed all the remaining plaster that held them together. It seemed to answer my questions in all the wrong ways.
I was afraid to tell because I was afraid that if I spoke ill of God and my faith that it would become true, or that He’d abandon me. Looking back I realize now how ridiculous that is, but grieving can make a person think and do crazy things.
Losing Kennedy created a huge gap between God and me. And I’m still trying to repair the damages that I’ve created in our bond; at the same time, I get to thinking some pretty scary stuff ...
What if the only reason I hold on to the belief in Heaven is because it would mean my loved ones would be safe and somewhere they could still hear me when I call out to them in the darkest times of my life? That’s a heavy thought to carry around along with the stress of school, friends, grades, body image issues and other angsty teenage problems. I’ve been forced to grow up fast because of the loss of someone very close to me. And I’m beginning to blame God for everything: not just her death, but all the emotions and occurrences that have made themselves present since she left.
How do I know God’s there when it feels like He’s not been listening to me at all? That’s just the question of the century, isn’t it? People in much worse situations than mine wonder the same thing. So why does it feel so new and exaggerated just because it happened to me?
I’m no scholar, and I’m not some famous or genius religious guru. I’m just a regular teenager from Fayetteville, Arkansas, who’s struggling to retain her shaken faith after the loss of her best friend. And grieving is normal; if you’re grieving too, hey, you’re not alone.
It wasn’t until after Kennedy died that I fully realized just how much love surrounded her. The fact that she brought so many people together to worship the same Father we’ve chosen to follow in the footsteps of, speaks mountains. That love can only come from God; we’re lucky to see a glimpse of it in our lifetime.
Maybe He really does have a plan for me after all: to relate to other people’s situations, help others get through the grieving process or something. I’m still waiting for Him to start talking. All I can hear is white noise, but who knows what I might hear in the next few moments, days, weeks?
No, I’m not okay. But I’m not really even the point of this blog. I wanted to write this entry to share my story; to inspire and hopefully get the message across to someone who needs to hear it that it’s going to be okay; and to give a friendly reminder that no matter how crappy, humiliating, depressing or empty a situation feels, God’s standing right there, and it’s in His hands — His open, beaming, glorious clasp. And He’s not letting go anytime soon.
Also, do yourself a favor and go tell the person who means the most in the world to you that you love them. Because I sure as hell wish I could.
I also thought this was worth mentioning: Kennedy lived and died by Romans 8:18. It was a verse she circled, recited to me, had in her bio and held very close to her heart. During her funeral, the minister talked about how amazing it was that such a young girl could be so wise to trust in the truth of that verse, especially considering her situation. Michael, her dad and my second father, talked about how Kennedy’s sister Caroline and he went for a walk a couple days after Kennedy died. Caroline had brought her Bible along and she said, “Dad, I have a lot of verses underlined but I only have one highlighted.” And I’ll let you guess which one it was.
Well, I was Googling a verse that I could end this post with, and the very first verse that caught my eye was none other than Romans 8:18: “For I consider the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
I asked for a way to know she’s okay, and I think I just got my answer.