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On Blame

Our tear-streaked mascara formed Rorschach masks across our faces as we held each other at arms length, circling the front yard in an awkward two-person, tequila fueled Rugby scrum. It was her dad, returning from a day of looking at farm equipment and eating corndogs at the state fair, who finally pulled us apart.

Her mom swooped in and said, "Cut this mess out right now. What in the world has gotten into you girls? You're the best of friends, for Pete's sake."

We were more than the best of friends; our souls were connected. She was a part of me, and I her. We had known each other for years, but we did not become good friends until my freshman, her sophomore year of college. After nights of "penny pitchers" we would stumble, our arms slung around each other, back up the impossibly high hills of Morgantown to her first college rental, the aptly named, "House from Hell". We would eat the Dairy Mart stromboli that we had purchased on our way and then we would climb into her decrepit pull-out sofa bed and talk, sometimes it was soul bearing, others it was utter nonsense, until the waning hours of night. She made me feel secure and open. I trusted her with my secrets and my heartache. She was one of the first people to make me feel worthy of love. And, hot damn did she make me laugh.

And, then one humid, August night I obliterated one of my greatest friendships - one of the great love stories of my life - because once I had felt love and trust, I got greedy and it consumed me like a fast moving fire. It was because of my infantile inability to share and my insatiable need for all of the love that I burnt down the hospital that had help save my life.

I tried to blame the massive quantity of cheap tequila that we had consumed to celebrate her 21st birthday, but it wasn't the tequila's fault (it's never actually the tequila's fault, by the way). And, then I tried to blame her then boyfriend, now husband, but as much as I wanted it to be, it wasn't his fault either.

It was mine. All mine.

It was my fault that we didn't attend each other's weddings. It was my fault that she went through her first pregnancy without so much as a card from me. It was my fault that our many mutual friends had to perform an intricate dance around us.

It is my burden to bear that we didn't speak for eight years.

There wasn't a time during those long, stubborn eight years that I didn't miss her. However, my ego was Herculean and I simply flicked those feelings away. But, during the cold, lonely moments or the warm, slightly drunken moments, those times when I could be nothing but honest with myself, I felt her like a phantom pain; part of me was missing. I would happen on a picture of us and find myself tracing my finger across it before I tossed it in a drawer and shut her away.

When we found ourselves in a wedding party together we understood the bride's unspoken yet explicit warning: she loved us both, she wasn't going to choose one of us over the other, we needed to get the hell over ourselves and we damn sure better not ruin her wedding.

It was probably more faith than we deserved, but we pulled it off.

Then the night of the bachelorette party, we were the last women standing. Before I had time to talk myself out of it, I crawled into the hotel bed with her just like it was that musty pull out from many years before, and told her how very sorry I was and how much I had missed her. We cried. We talked until night became day and when we feel asleep, we did so holding hands.

That was 14 years ago. I wept in the middle of a work conference in San Diego when she called me to tell me the little girl she had waited so long for had arrived - I was five months pregnant. I held her close just a couple months later as she said goodbye to her dad and it was her arms that I collapsed into the day of my little brother's funeral.

I can't get those eight years back. Maybe that is for the best. Maybe we burned too brightly at first and it was inevitable that we were going to flame out. Who knows?

What I do know is that sometimes you just have to own it; that it was quite simply all your fault. You have to suck it up and just admit that you straight up Godzilla stomped someone's love and trust. It's not the least bit fun, but when you become whole again it is totally worth it.

I love you, Thompson!

P.S. Had only we lived on Dawson's Creek!

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