I knew of her before I knew her. That’s the mark of a truly great person, I think.

And she had that ability to make people feel like they’d known her forever. In my case, I kind of had known her forever. Since she was 13 and I was 14, which pretty much made us sisters for awhile.

I cried for a solid month straight after she died, two years ago today. Unable to make the silliest decisions, I was overtaken my my grief. I never ended up sending flowers to her funeral, not because I didn’t try and pick some out–I sat for hours flipping through flower websites–but because I couldn’t make up my mind.

Did the “Eternally Yours” scream out “I can’t believe you’re fucking dead?” Or perhaps, “Gentle Thoughts” bouquet might be more appropriate for someone who, at age 26, died of natural causes in her sleep, leaving behind her two sons. Someone else should have told me which to choose, because I was useless.

In the end, I chose nothing, because nothing could properly express how I felt about losing my friend Stef. Shit, I still can’t write about it. This stupid fucking post won’t capture the half of who she was. Because you can’t capture her essence.

By being her friend, you were a better person. She had a sparkle to her, not a quality most of us have, and if you were with her for very long, it rubbed off on you and for awhile, you were better too.

For years, I’d have gladly traded places with her without hesitating. She was everything I didn’t think I could be: strong and solid, funny and sweet. If she’d been a bitch, it would have been easy to be jealous of her, but she wasn’t.

During a time when I had no one, I had Stef. When I was pregnant with Ben, and his father sought refuge in another vagina, Stef was the one person who not only comforted me, as all of my “friends” turned against me for this transgression (obviously my fault. The situation sucked) but then chewed the vagina a new, well, asshole.

There aren’t a lot of friends who will do that for someone. Or, if there are, I don’t have them.

She sat with me day after day during my pregnancy with Ben, co-hosted my baby shower and told me that I looked beautiful 50 pounds overweight after I delivered. That’s a real friend.

I love her very much.

She was miserable after she had her first son. Even more after she had her second. She chose to drown her sorrows in bottles of vodka. I channel mine into growing orchids and writing words.

Stef died in her sleep after coming home from her second stint in rehab.

I don’t regret not reaching out to her and Doing Something, because, to be honest, after having been through 2 alcoholic parents, I know damn well that no matter how nice Intervention makes it look, for ever success story, the addict has to WANT change.

So sitting her down and saying “you need to CHANGE” would have done nothing. I can’t accept responsibility for her death.

I can accept responsibility for not telling her that I loved her before she passed. I never, ever thought that I’d be here, telling The Internet that I wish I’d been able to tell my friend one last time that I loved her.

Because she was so, so loved.

Her funeral was standing room only. The room was filled with mourners who wept over her open coffin. All of us crying for her, for us, for her children, listening to the string trio weep as they played the Stones song “As Tears Go By” hoping that maybe her spirit was in the room and could hear us tell her in death what we hadn’t in life.

The world is a worse, colder place without her. This much I know.

I miss her every day.

84 thoughts on “Warm, Like The Evening Sun

  1. Possibly the lamest phrase in the English language is “I’m so sorry for your loss,” but I am, even two years late. Hopefully she’s somewhere where she can read what you just wrote and know that she’s loved.

    I think I’ll go write my bestie a love letter now.

  2. Having lost my husband very unexpectedly a year and a half ago, I tend to think that these sudden passings are so much harder for those left behind. Did you say enough? Did they really know how much you loved them? Why didn’t you make that last moment more memorable …. and the list goes on ……

    There really is nothing harder than letting go of somebody so loved.

    Thanks for sharing … keep writing …..

  3. She knows that she is loved! She also loved the flowers you weren’t able to choose. Know that she is with you and knows you were a good friend and remain that way. My sympathies on this anniversary.

  4. Oh Aunt Becky. My heart breaks for you. There are no words for this loss, this soul-ripping. Sending hugs and hope in your direction, today. Three years ago, I lost my best friend. It is a gaping hole that is never filled.


  5. “…I know damn well that no matter how nice Intervention makes it look, for ever success story, the addict has to WANT change.”

    Having an alcoholic stepmother for 10 years and seeing my Dad finally leave her and having her family blame him for leaving and not doing an intervention bla bla bla…that statement could not be more true. I hope you truly believe it. And thank you for sharing.

  6. I know all about the loss of a friend. I met my best friend in kindergarten. We were the friends who stood by one another through thick and thin. We got ourselves into trouble and out of trouble all the time. We were so close, we might have well been sisters. She died about 15 years ago in a car accident.

    She had only been married for less than 2 months. She had only been free from her molesting step-father for less than a year. He molested her from the time she was 3 or 4 until she turned him in at 17………and he only spent a few months in a county jail!! If I had my way with him, I would have chopped off his penis, wrapped it in barbed wire, and shoved it up his ass, then I would cut his fingers off one at a time…..and why stop with fingers when I could go on with his entire hand…..and, well at that point his arms are useless…….might as well chop them off too………cut off his legs too…….I just wouldn’t stop…….Fortunately he died a month or so ago……..I’m sure he’s in a special place in hell

  7. Having left my alcoholic ex-husband over 25 years ago and he is still drinking, with a brain injury, I recognize your pain.

    She knew she was loved because all she gave you, I know you gave her back.

  8. ? That’s all I got. ?


    For some reason, the hearts come up as question marks? I suppose I need to do the dreaded less than three now.

    Very well. But only for you.


  9. It is so hard to lose someone you love, but even more so when that person didn’t get an opportunity to live a long, full life. I am so sorry and I can relate to how difficult this is, having lost three friends to horribly untimely deaths. It gets easier, but it never really leaves you.

  10. I’m sorry. I understand.

    My dear, dear friend who also just happened to be my girls’ pediatrician stepped off his hard-fought wagon 6 years ago.

    I watched my darling friend and brilliant doctor lose himself again to the alcohol, although this time he couldn’t find it in him to battle his way back.

    I tried. Everyone tried, but he knew it was only up to him. He told me so, the last time I saw him, the last time I will ever see him. A friend found him. He’d been dead for over a week. No one knew because he’d lost everything at that point, his wife, his family, his huge practice of loyal patients. We all rooted for him, but as you well know, only the person in the devil’s vice grip can wrestle themselves free. Godspeed to your friend and to my friend and to all the other souls who have lost the war. They are missed.

  11. Honey, I’m sorry. I wish there was more I could say, more I could do… I’m glad you had her in your life and I’m really sorry she’s not still around. xoxo

  12. Oh Becky, this just breaks my heart. I’m so sorry about the loss of your friend. For you. For her family. It’s so unfair and, this isn’t going to help, but how do you get over that? Hopefully some internet hugs can help you get through today a little easier!

  13. Anniversaries are so hard. I couldn’t write about my father last week, and I wish I could soak up the pain when I hear of whom others have lost.

    The world was a better place for your friend because of you. And that was your gift to her. The rest is out of your hands, yet still in your heart.

    I send hugs, and thoughts of spring. Take care today Becky.

  14. That was so intense. Thanks for sharing that. It has made me reach out to my precious friends to tell them how much they mean to me. Makes me cherish the pitiful amount of time that I get to spend with my beloved husband.

  15. thank you for this post. i have a brother addicted to crack and i have only asked that he please get help. i haven’t told him i love him because i’m so mad at him. i will now. my heart bleeds for you.

  16. And you think you are not emotionally deep? Aunt Becky, you clearly have a loving soul and your friend felt better for knowing YOU. I’m so sorry she wasn’t able to tame her demons and you were left feeling helpless. Don’t have a second thought about the flowers, I’m positive it wouldn’t have made anyone feel any less heartbroken. It’s just one of those things we do because we don’t know what ELSE we can do, and really, there’s nothing that can take the hurt away. In case you don’t already know it, Aunt Becky, us Interneters love YOU. And now I’m going to call my best friend – my husband – and tell him how much he is loved.

  17. “I never, ever thought that I’d be here, telling The Internet that I wish I’d been able to tell my friend one last time that I loved her.”

    Having been in similar shoes to yours, take comfort in the fact that one more time still wouldn’t have been enough. Nothing is ever enough when it comes to losing someone you love. Know that you sticking by her screamed your love. She knew it.

    What a beautiful tribute to your friend. This post sure sounds like you did her memory justice.

  18. I’m so sorry for your loss, Becky. It is never easy saying good-bye to someone who has been such a big and beautiful part of your world. Your friend sounds like an amazing person, real and flawed and loving and lost. I’m sure she felt just as lucky as you did that the two of you were friends.

  19. I am declaring today “Tell Your Best Friend You Love Them” day. I know I don’t say it enough, and I cannot fathom how much you hurt because of this loss, and I don’t think I could handle this kind of situation.

    Sending my thoughts and prayers to you and Steph’s family and friends. Death-aversarys are hard.

  20. sigh… I feel you Becky. I lost my brother in law October 30, 2002. He wasn’t MY best friend, but the way my sister still grieves still sets my family back. She is following him it seems though. And there is nothing we can do.

  21. I believe you made everyone think today. Your experiences help so many people. Obviously several here are reaching out to loved ones today just to say they love them, because we never know if we won’t get the opportunity to again tomorrow.

    I am sending you a great big hug. No I won’t let go. I don’t care if it is creeping you out. You need a damn hug!

  22. Ah God, the only worse thing than crying in your lap at the computer, is possibly crying as you read Reader’s Digest on the potty. Or so I hear. I have been to an addict’s funeral and they suck; it’s such a horrible ‘what could we have done’ loss. I know how you feel in as much *that* friend of mine is still here, but still walking the path of the pills. I fear to end up writing something similar (though no doubt not as eloquent) someday. You have my thoughts, sadness and condolences.

  23. I lost my Highschool Sweetheart to undiagnosed diabetes going on, geez, five years now? He was 25 years old. Somedays the loss hits me so hard, and we weren’t even that close when he died. Somedays I just want to cry and cry and cry for what the world lost when he passed. Somedays it’s just too much to handle, even now. I dream about him often still.

    My heart aches for your loss, and for the senseless loss of one so young.

  24. I am so sorry for your loss. I am so glad you don’t feel bad about not saying something to get her to change. My husband has been sober for 10 years and we know there is nothing one can do if someone doesn’t want to change.

  25. What everyone else said is very true. She knew you loved her. The sense of loss doesn’t diminish but the hurt does. I lost my husband of 25 years 2 years ago and there is still a huge hole in my heart, but I find that his memory becomes more of a comfort every day, except for the days I feel sorry for myself, missing what might have been. Luckily those pitiful me days are becoming fewer, but I dread the anniversary of his death, because that is the toughest day of the year. Thank you for tackling a tough topic, one that has been on my mind lately. Tomorrow would have been my husband’s 56th birthday. I think you are brave and wonderful, and in touch with your feelings.

  26. I’m so sorry for your loss.

    I was reading this post while my husband is on the phone with his mom discussing what they can do for his alcoholic uncle who still thinks that he doesn’t have a problem (because it’s *just* beer, so it can’t be a problem, right?). It sucks when you want to help but you can’t.

    *Cheesy internet hugs*

  27. She knew you loved her. Those last words wouldn’t have mattered to her. Write them on a piece of paper, burn it, let it go up into the light.
    I know it’s hard. The death of a friend changes you profoundly. But just because she is not here, doesn’t mean that the love you shared together for each other is gone. I swear it.

  28. Oh becky she knew. She knew you loved her. Close friends know without you saying it.

    And you are right…there is nothing you can say to an addict to force them to change…to be honest I’m glad that you arent beating yourself up over that. I know so many people who spend years regretting not “doing something” and as a child of an alcoholic as well, I’m with you. There is nothing you can say, nothing you can do.

    And no words can capture the essence of someone so special.

    Thinking of you on Stefs two year anniversary…I can’t believe it has been that long. 2008 was a shit, shit year.

  29. I’m really sorry you lost a friend so young. I hope for the type of afterlife that let’s us watch down on those we loved — so that she definitely can hear you telling her you love her now.

    And one day you’ll be partying it up together again, old skool style in the big castle in the sky. HOLLA! (Okay, please don’t take this as inappropriate… I find this topic tends to make me turn to ‘humour’, even though I know it’s not a time for it?…oy, just know I’m trying to be consoling/thoughtful, I just turn into a huge dork when presented with this sort of topic).

  30. Yeah, the anniversaries always suck. I lost both of my parents to cancer and there are so many anniversaries…diagnosis day, more bad news day, news that it’s terminal day…and then with the funeral you just have trouble negotiating the line between huge, unreal, unmanageable emotion and hatred of the funeral industry – the instinct to mock is at war with the need to grieve, and you end up not knowing how to deal.

    We’re all thinking of you, though, if that helps at all. Hell, I’m comment #50, so that should tell you something.

  31. Somehow you seemed to think you wouldn’t be able to write about her, but you did, and as others have pointed out, you enriched us in the process. It is truly said that you can judge yourself by your friends, and clearly she loved you very much, as you did her. Thank you for opening your heart to us with courage and honesty.
    Angie at Eat Here

  32. My best friend from jr. high and highschool died 7 years ago on January 8th. I’ll never forget where I was, what I was doing, how I felt, the way she looked in her coffin, the way her skin felt…it’s still so vivid. I still cry over her. I don’t think a time will ever come where I won’t.

    I’m so sorry for your loss, my friend.

  33. By writing this, you validate her struggles and honor her life. I hope in time, her children will understand her greatness despite her addiction issues.

  34. Becky – by writing about her you still are standing behind her – still being her friend.

    It’s not easy (I know) having an alcohol problem and have so many people you think are your friends turn away and never come back.

    For her to know that you stood behind her even when she was unlovable….

    She *knew* you loved her.

  35. So many comments….so much love. This transparent world of invisible companions….damn, they matter. We breathe, we love, we lose…and we share.

    For so long I tried to paint my loss. Canvases of dark forests and light just beyond reach…what is the color of grief?

    Thank you…and know that in a world of distance, you are held.

    1. what a lovely creative comment. it was as if i could actually see your paintings. weird how we find people to resonate with across the miles…

  36. What a beautiful tribute to a dear friend. I have the feeling she knew you loved her but it is good to remind yourself of how much. Thanks for the post…I’m making my list of love notes that are long overdue.

  37. I’m sorry you never got to tell her how much you loved her. I’m sure she knew. And she knows now. She is always with you as you remember her.
    I am a recovering alcoholic, 8 1/2 years sober. I’m glad you know that no matter how much you tried to talk to or help her, she had to make the decision. I ended up in the hospital time & again with pancreatitis from drinking. Finally the last time I was there, the dr told me I could either live or die. The choice was up to me. I chose life. I never wanted a drink after I left the hospital. I was blessed because i guess I went through withdrawals in the hospital. I was so sick that I couldn’t tell if it was withdrawal or my pancreatitis. But no matter how many people told me I had to quit, I wouldn’t, until I got that sick. I’m sure your friend knows that you were there for her no matter what. You help people here every day. Sometimes the best medicine is laughter & you know how to make people laugh. Just know that you also meant the world to your friend. (((HUGS)))

  38. After losing my daddy earlier this year, everyone told me “He knows you love him”, but I felt awful because I didn’t tell him I would see him the next day.

    I feel your pain, and I hate that you’re still going through it.

  39. I can’t imagine the pain of such a loss. You are one of the strongest people I know. The fact that you continue to make people laugh despite everything you have gone through fills me with admiration.

  40. I am thinking about you Becky, as you try to make some sense out of this tragedy even 2 years later. I believe your friend is somewhere and knows how much you loved her. Your words today were a beautiful memorial to her.

  41. I am so sorry for the loss and pain you continue to feel.

    When I read “She was everything I didn’t think I could be: strong and solid, funny and sweet”, I thought “Doesn’t she know that is exactly how I would describe her?”


  42. Aunt Becky, thank you for sharing. This is what I needed to hear, because I’ve been dealing with this for the past 4 months. So, for me to say I’m sorry for your loss sounds so very trite, but I truly am. I lost my brother almost exactly 4 months ago. He took his life, but no one had any idea there was a problem. Not me, the RN, not my brothers or father who worked with him every day, not his best friends, and not even his wife. I am done being angry at him, and now I just feel overwhelming sadness at the things he will miss, like his 7 nephews and new niece growing up, the opportunity to have his own children, and the list goes on. My biggest regret is that I didn’t take the time to find out what he was up to (not that he would have told me-hey, I just embezzled 100-grand from the business, and I’ve been taking anabolic steroids, along with other illegal drugs), but I can’t help but wonder if maybe I had taken the time to let him know how much he meant to me, maybe things would have been different. We as a family are forever changed…we will never take each other for granted again…life is too fragile, even when there is no suicidal intent. Thank you again for your courage to share such painful experiences. You are my internet hero!!

  43. You might not have told her, but I’m sure she knew. And you appreciated her for who she was, while she was alive – not just in tearful reflection after she died. In that, you were more than a true friend. Losing someone so close and so needlessly is heart-crushing. But it reminds us that we’re alive, and while we’re still in this world, we should continue to remember that any of our loved ones could be gone by the end of the day. It may be a cliche’, but it became one for a good reason. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  44. I’m ridiculously behind in my blog reading, so I’m just getting to this now. But I started reading you not much more than a year ago, around the first anniversary of your loss. It was one of the first things I learned about you, that you’d had and lost this amazing person in your life. I know what you mean about people who make you better for having known them, and I’m grateful every day for having had those people in my life, at the same time that I curse fate for no longer having them around.

    I wish I could say something that would help. All I can say is that it looks like she’s still making people better, even those who’ve only known her through you. I’m sure she is missed so very, very much.

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