I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I’d say to her, given the chance. It’s a pointless endeavor, for sure, considering she’s been dead for almost three years. Or is it more than three years? She died when Alex was a baby, a couple months before I got pregnant with my daughter.

One last conversation. What would I say to her?

I could tell her that I admired her from the moment I met her, when we were eleven and thirteen, respectively; just kids, really. There was an instant chemical reaction between us, the kind that occurs once or twice in a lifetime, if you’re really lucky. It’s like our cells pulled us toward other. We would be friends. Our cells were determined. So were The Fates.

We’d always be thrown in front of each other, at this party or that. She dated one of my best friends for a very long time. She was friends with the little sister of one of my older friends. We were both talented cellists – although her talent was far beyond mine – which meant we were in orchestra together for a couple of years.

In Beethoven’s String Quartet Number, he scribbled Grave, (Muss es sein?/Must it be?), Allegro (Es muss sein!/It must be!), and that’s how I thought of our friendship, of any good friendship:

Must it be? It must be.

I’ve stopped believing in the randomness of the universe and when I think back to all of the times we happened upon each other, once again, I realize: It Must Be.

Would I tell her how I admired her when she walked tall and proud so sure of herself, while the rest of us shuffled along; all elbows and knees, not sure what we stood for? Because I admired the hell out of her. Bracelets jangling, jeans hugging her hips, a vintage Stones t-shirt effortless put together, she was larger than life at age sixteen.

I’d never known anyone like that before.

I’d never known anyone who would take my side, either. Every other friend I’d had shoved me under the bus at wink of an eye or waggle of the hips; the betrayals vaguely reminiscent of my childhood, where no one had ever been on my side. When she showed up to tell my cheating boyfriend to fuck off or my former friend that she was being a total asshole, I was stunned. It had always just been me. Defending, well, me. Maybe I’d tell her that it was sad that I was twenty before I knew that kind of friendship.

Maybe I’d tell her that I’d lived my life the daughter of a bipolar alcoholic and I was sorry that she’d found herself there, too. Because I was. So sorry. We’d tried to reach her, my God we tried, but she was lost in the bottle and not a single one of us who had loved her back when she sparkled and shone, not one of us could get through. But we tried because we still loved her and we still believed that she was in there.

I could tell her that her funeral was so full of people who loved her that it was standing room only.

That when the string trio started playing “As Tears Go By,” the entire room wept. We all wept at the tragedy of losing someone who had so much of that sparkle, so much of that shine.

How the image of her two sons screaming and wailing to, “See MOMMY!” as they shut the casket will be forever seared into the brains of so many as the most heartbreaking thing we’ve ever seen.

She is so, so loved.

I could tell her that two years later, I still cannot talk about her without crying. How I cannot hear “Tears Go By” without weeping. How I still have her phone number in my address book. How I dedicated Band Back Together to her because I think the stigma of mental illness and alcoholism and all those demons we hide, I think that’s bullshit. How I think she’d like the site.

I guess I could tell her any of those things if I saw Stef again. But I think she’d already know.

Maybe I’d just hug her one last time, have one last laugh and say the right words: Must it be? It must be.

87 thoughts on “It. Must. Be.

  1. Oh Becky,

    She would be so honored, so proud and know how loved she is.. just through these words.

    What a beautiful tribute to an obviously amazing person.

    The world is a better place because of her and your memory of her is touching.

    <3 you

  2. This is beautifully written. And Amazing. She was lucky to have you and you her. I am so sorry she is gone. Hugs and love to you is all I can truly say.

  3. Well shit. Becky. Dammit.

    I’m so glad you had a friend like that. And so sad for you that she’s gone.

    Thank you for sharing her with us.

  4. Wow. This certainly brought tears to my eyes. I’m so sorry for your loss — a loss that was clearly felt by so many people.

    And you are so right. The stigma of alcoholism and mental illness and other demons is BS.


  5. Damn. I really can’t think of a comment that would fill the void that this post left in me. That I’m so sorry for your loss just doesn’t cut it. Just… Damn. 🙁

  6. This made my heart ache. I too have known that kind of friendship and lost it. Beautifully written. But you know that already. 🙂

  7. This made my heart ache. I too have known that kind of friendship and lost it. Beautifully written. But you know that already. 🙂

  8. Beautiful.
    Simply beautiful.
    You’ve made me cry yet again. Not too hard to do these days. My moms best friend passed away from cancer in 2009 the day before I arrived for a visit. Mom just published her journal which she wrote during the last 9 months of her friend’s ordeal. I thought of that while I was reading your post because they, too, were meant to be.
    Love you and giving you long distance hugs.

  9. Beautiful.
    Simply beautiful.
    You’ve made me cry yet again. Not too hard to do these days. My moms best friend passed away from cancer in 2009 the day before I arrived for a visit. Mom just published her journal which she wrote during the last 9 months of her friend’s ordeal. I thought of that while I was reading your post because they, too, were meant to be.
    Love you and giving you long distance hugs.

  10. Alcohol is so destructive. Especially in the mentally ill. My father is schizophrenic and alcoholic, among other things. The destruction that the alcohol has caused my family doesn’t go away. The pain and loss of a loved one, that never goes away. They seem to burn into your being. I am SO sorry for the loss of your friend. Friends so loyal and honest are so rare. So valuable. May her fire always burn brightly in you.

    My sincerest hugs and tears.

  11. I wish there were words for how hauntingly beautiful this is. How much the ache of losing her comes across yet is overshadowed by the love of knowing her. Grief is an impossible thing. There are no words that can truly tell you that while I can never know exactly what you feel, I understand the utter despair of your loss and the intense joy of her memory. I hope everyone grieving the loss of anyone, no matter how recent or ancient, how tragic or expected, can read this and find comfort in your beautiful words.

  12. I loved this. I’m sorry for your loss and happy for you that you had a friend like that. I’ll be thinking about that little boy for awhile and hoping he is ok. If you haven’t already read it, may I suggest this book by Caroline Knapp: Drinking, A Love Story. I happened to read it over the summer and loved it. She was a journalist, but that was just circumstance. Really, she was a blogger before there was internet. Alice K’s Guide to Life was another book of hers that I loved.

  13. Becky – you, this post, Band Back Together – have meant more to me than ever lately. Thank you for sharing this, for sharing yourself with the world. You’re honestly an inspiration.

  14. Ahhhh Christ. Your writing, it must be. And the same universe that gave you that friendship, gave your love to her, and gives your love to her now. I believe love never dies. My husband lost one of his best friends to suicide and he was bipolar, an artist. He left my old friend, their daughter and two other children behind. It’s tragedy, plain and simple. And a hole so big but thank God you try to fill it with beauty. They deserve that.

  15. This post makes me want to cry. I am so sorry for your loss. I know how hard it is to be a witness to that kind of train wreck.

    I think it’s awesome how you made a site devoted to getting rid of that stigma associated with mental illness and addiction. No one ever gets all mad at a diabetic who can’t process sugar, now do they?

  16. Damn, you’ve got me crying again. Damn. I have lost so many, I will not lose one more child to addiction. Damn. Keep talking about it, writing about it, screaming about it. Damn. I’m crying again.

  17. You are a great writer and have the ability to present to others the deep emotions that at one time or another we have all felt.

    Thank you so very much for sharing a part of your life that is so personal


  18. That was beautiful. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend and the loss of a mother for those sweet boys.

    Also, I feel for you for being the daughter of a bipolar alcoholic. My girls are too.

    Many, many hugs to you. You know I think you are amazing.

  19. This is a terrific post…sad, but powerful, and terrific. Glad my makeup has already been washed off though or I’d be cursing you and your touching words.

  20. My heart literally hurts after reading this, and normally this would be a bad thing, but it’s not. I just want to hug all of you who knew her. To fix it. I know the kind of friendship you speak of, and if/when I lose the one I have like that, I won’t have words anymore.

    Love you. Tons.

  21. Wow. I’ve been reading your blog for a VERY long time and am not sure if I’ve ever commented. I couldn’t leave this post alone. I had a friend, just like that. She was my soul mate. We were supposed to grow old together and be little old ladies rocking a porch somewhere, someday. She suffered from depression, was later diagnosed as bipolar, and took her own life, not even 2 years from the onset of her mental illness. It’s been 3 years and I miss her every day.

    What I wouldn’t give for one more hug…

    Thank you for knowing how I feel.

  22. That was so beautifully written and so powerful. I am glad you found each other, even if it for wasn’t long enough.

    I should never, ever attempt to read you when wearing mascara.

  23. I woke up this morning to the stark realization that the 10 year anniversary of my sister in-laws suicide is almost here. Because I was thinking of my wedding anniversary and what we should do, and she killed herself 3 months after my wedding.
    And I was sad. And angry.
    And weepy.
    And this? This post is a great cleanser.
    Tears are good. I don’t feel shame in my tears for a woman who should still be here. For a great soul that left the world too soon.
    So thank you for your post.
    Even though I know it was just coincidence – the timing could not have been better.

    I am sorry for the loss.

  24. At the risk of repeating all who have commented ahead of me, wow. This is a lovely, beautiful, lyrical post.

    I can see your friend clearly.

    I was holding my breath as I read it, and was sad to finish it. Sad for you who has lost a great friend, sad for her children, her other friends, and this world that has lost that sparkling presence.

    Thanks for writing this.

  25. Perhaps if there was less stigma, more people would seek help. As Mom’s, we feel everything we do is judged in some way – to admit to a problem is admitting failure … and yet, in thinking that way, do we not set ourselves up for failure right from the start.
    Love when you write like this, that soft vulnerable side of you that you try to keep hidden behind that other ‘f*ck you’ persona you want us to believe you are …

  26. I keep coming back to this post, wanting to have the right words to say. You, on the other hand, have found beautiful words.

    My love to you…

  27. Thanks for sharing Stef with us… makes me feel honored to “know” her.

    My personal ItMustBe friend had to watch me go down, being lost in a violent, dark and drugged world that was my marriage. And there was nothing she could do about it. I had to crawl out there myself… (Es muss sein). So having been to the other side, I can’t even imagine your pain…

    I’m sorry she can’t be with you. But I bet my butt that – just hopefully somehow – she knows all that.

    Thanks for writing this down.
    Really, totally, utterly: Thanks.

  28. I am so sorry for your loss and I can relate. My heart hurts for you and for all who lost a great friend, mother, presence the day that your friend died.

    I had a Stef once but her name was Julie. She taught me how to love myself just the way I was, mostly because she loved herself the way she was. Or so it seemed to my naive 19 year old self. She was a bartender at the restaurant where I worked. She took me under her wing and made me feel happy to be alive for the first time in a while. But in reality, she wasn’t happy with herself, she just pretended so. She had suffered a life of abuse and addiction and at 27 she couldn’t keep it together anymore. Her son was too young to realize what was happend at her funeral, but I saw. I saw that her funeral was so packed that there were people standing in the parking lot looking in through the side doors at the service. Because that is the kind of person Julie was, everyone’s best friend. And I always wish that I could have had one last conversation with her because in the months leading up to her deal I had distanced myself from her. I barely spoke to her that Tuesday when she called me in the middle of American Idol. I was dreading the plans we made for that Sunday. That Saturday night I was semi-relieved when she didn’t respond to my text confirming our plans for the next day. I was annoyed when I still didn’t her from her the next morning, pissed that she flaked out on me and so I didn’t even make it to the bar where she worked, where we were supposed to talk and play pool. But by Sunday night I was heartbroken. For a moment I hated myself, hated my betrayal. Hated that she died alone, caught in a fire that she started when she fell asleep with a lit cigarette once the drugs wore off and no one ever showed up to hang out. Hated that I hadn’t tried harder to help her, hated that she scared me and so I retreated.

    But I don’t really think about what I would say to her now, given the chance. Because I know what she would have said to me. I think she did, even, once in a dream. That it was okay, that it was sad but that I would be fine and that she loved me.

    It’s been a long 6 years since tht has happened and while I think of it less and less, the hurt hasn’t really gone away. Sorry for my novel of a comment, but I just had to tell you about my Stef. I didn’t intend to write that much, but I didn’t really want to stop or edit it either. Hope you understand.

  29. ohh, becky.
    i have tears..that was so beautifully written. she is proud, she is most definitely proud. thank you for sharing her with us.


  30. What a beautiful, touching and heartfelt tribute. I can tell how difficult it was for you to write, but I hope you feel a little better having done so. Your friend knew how much you loved her.

    Band Back Together is an amazing site and you should be very proud of giving people a place to share their BS, their voice.

    Wishing you Peace.

  31. whenever you write about Stef, i can ‘see and hear’ her, even tho i never met her. she lives on with you, in your heart, in your words. love and hugs xoxo

  32. I totally understand how you feel. My friend gave in to his alcoholism one year ago on January 9th. I can’t even express how much I miss him. He had no clue how much he meant to so many people. I wish I could say something to you to make it better, but there is nothing that can make it better. I suppose it gets milder with time, but it never goes away. I am thinking of you.

  33. I had a bad couple of days with some friends. I realized they aren’t forever friends, and I will get shoved under a bus. This makes me remember the few, loyal, loving friends I’d take a bullet for.

    She’s proud of you for sure, you do her memory proud. Hugs


  34. I had a bad couple of days with some friends. I realized they aren’t forever friends, and I will get shoved under a bus. This makes me remember the few, loyal, loving friends I’d take a bullet for.

    She’s proud of you for sure, you do her memory proud. Hugs


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