“Mel’s bday today.” Right there on my timeline.
What the hell? I couldn’t stop staring at the words. There were only three of them. “Why did Grammy feel the need to remind me of this?”
I pulled up Messenger and began composing a few quick lines.
“Gram, why on earth did you post about Melissa’s birthday on my timeline? You know that she doesn’t speak to me anymore.”
Grammy responded hours later.
“Not sure why I mentioned it,” her message read. “Guess I was just hoping if you wished her a happy birthday on her page that she might respond. I think you can do that without being friends.”
I couldn’t help but smile. I replied instantly.
“Ohhhh Gram. Thanks. She’s blocked me on Facebook or I would have wished her a happy birthday every year. Hope you have a great Sabbath! I love you lots.”
I thought nothing more of it. I hated having Melissa on my mind more than usual that day, but it was bearable. It has been, after all, six years since I’ve heard a single word from her, so I’ve gotten used to the unbearable, maddening silence (if you haven’t read about her before, you can do so here and here; she was my very best friend for 7 years straight and she’s also the first girl I ever love-loved).
Grammy messaged me again that evening. I was horrified by what I read.
“I messaged her Rose,” she announced happily, “and told her you wished her a happy be-lated birthday and that I wish she’d at least allow you to have some closure over all this, because you WERE best friends, and we need to ask ourselves, What Would Jesus Do. Gave her your new name and told her she could find you on face book.”
“Oh.. my.. god.” I couldn’t believe it. Gram the Meddler; was I really surprised? Yes. The answer was still yes.
So now, Melissa (who probably already speculated as much) would know, without a shadow of a doubt, that she still had me wrapped around her finger. That I was still missing her friendship, thinking about her every day, and remembering her birthday each year. What a loser.
I called my mother, shared the news, and she sympathized with me. “I’m so sorry,” she cooed into the phone. “But maybe you’ll hear something back from Melissa; wouldn’t that be exciting?”
“Yeah RIGHT,” I chuckled. “That girl is not going to respond. I’m certain. I won’t get a single word from her.”
And I was right.. in a sense.
She didn’t get in touch with me. But she did respond to Grammy.
I was happily lounging around the house this morning, sitting in bed with boxers (HUSH, girls wear boxers), blueberries, and a chubby, softly snoring German Shepherd. I was spending time sorting through old pictures and docs on my computer and picking up the guitar every now and then, working out lyrics to a new song. Suddenly, I got a notification on my phone: it was from Sierra Madre.
“Melissa messaged Gram back. If you want to read it, I could give you her account login.”
My heart stopped. Words. There were words to read. Melissa’s words. And they were about me; she was thinking about me, she had to be thinking about me, when she wrote them. I wanted to read them more than anything.
“I would,” I responded casually. “Thanks.”
She sent me the info. I made myself wait three minutes (so that I wouldn’t appear desperate to myself), and then I couldn’t stand it any longer. I pulled up Facebook, logged out of my account, logged into Grammy’s, and then clicked on Melissa’s message.
I read the first line.. it was her acknowledging that she’d considered reaching out to me in the past.. good to know.. but then, I read this, and when I did, I lost it:
“I have felt bad for never responding to her letters, but..”
Insert <fit of tears>.
I – am – done.
I finished the rest of her 500-character message hastily, just wanting to get it over with. Certain words and phrases stood out: “I’m too busy”; “too much going on”; “finishing school”; “praying for her”; “I can’t help her.” I logged out of Gram’s account quickly, dried my face, saw the dog staring at me, looked down at my hands, realized they were shaking, and tried very ardently to compose myself. I wasn’t just devastated by what I’d read; I was shocked.
“Did you read it?” Sierra had inquired, via Messenger, a few minutes prior to my meltdown.
“Yep. All I needed to know was that she got my letters. And she did.”
“Are you mad at her?” Sierra ventured to ask. “Are you OK?”
“Oh,” I murmured out loud as I typed, “I’m fine. I’m DONE. I just discovered that she received every single one of my letters, so I’ve gotten precisely the closure that I needed.” I paused, then I continued typing. “Knowing her, and knowing how KIND she always was, I’ve felt CERTAIN, for the last SIX YEARS, that her MOTHER was intercepting the birthday cards, Thanksgiving cards, and heartfelt letters that I was sending.. because if Melissa was getting them, of course she would have responded to me (even if it was just to say: “I’m not interested in being your friend anymore; please stop writing”). But nope. I was totally wrong. Melissa read every single letter and decided that it wasn’t at all necessary to respond. Melissa is heartless. I can’t continue to love a person like that in ANY capacity. I would never treat anyone that way, and I won’t subject myself to this cruel rejection and pain anymore. Therefore, I’m done.”
“I’m wishing that I would not have told you to read her response,” Sierra responded (with a sad face). “I think that, when she gets to a point in her life where she is happy, she will reach out to you,” she reassured me.
“No thanks.” I sound like a brat right now, I thought to myself, but I don’t care. “I don’t care if she becomes happy someday and is ‘feeling up to’ reaching out, or if, someday, things in her life have ‘settled down’ enough that she suddenly has time to acknowledge my existence.. I don’t want to hear from her anymore, and I don’t want her to contact me. Ever. I just want her to live as though I don’t exist, which she’s already used to doing.”
The conversation ended and I was still shaking.
It hurt.. finally and suddenly getting the closure I’ve been dying to have. Way more than I thought it would. But it was also freeing. I’ve been held captive by her memory for years; feeling helpless, lovesick, and forgotten. And now that this perfectly preserved image and this flawless idea of Melissa have both fallen to the floor and shattered into ugly, jagged pieces, I’m free.
I was so sure that she never got them.. that THAT was why I never heard from her. She was the princess who needed saving from her awful mother, the miserable queen who stole the letters I sent and then threw them down into the alligator-infested moat. But I was so wrong. And I deserved to know that I was wrong about her, and now that I do know, I am going to stop harboring, protecting, and nurturing the special love that I’ve held so close to me for someone who isn’t worth it. Not a single bit worth it.
You aren’t who I imagined, but imagining isn’t fair. I invented the girl of my dreams, with your heart, laugh, and smile. I fell in love with her, and I completely lost sight of you.