I’m in the room with her. I know my mom is there too, but I can’t say for sure who else is. My mom and I are fluttering around my sister like the little birds that talk to Cinderella before the ball. I’m not sure what this room is, what it looks like, or if it’s even a room at all. But it doesn’t matter, because all eyes are on her today.
Gabrielle. No one calls her that. Only some greeting cards address her with this formality. But I know her thank-you notes will be signed Gabby, in her handwriting that I’ve always coveted. Letters stout and even, bubbly and curved; their shape suits her so well. She’s organized and driven as hell, but always in her own style. And just as her scribbled notes reflect her character, I know she’s planned the perfect wedding for herself.
She’s ready. Her dress is simple, so all eyes are on her shoes. The details are uncertain, but I imagine they give her height and her toes peek out the front to show the nail color that we spent upwards of thirty minutes picking.
I lead Gabby out of the room, where the chatter from the guests is immediately audible, but completely unintelligible. We’re holding hands. Gabby turns to me, and I’m already sobbing. We lock eyes and let out a little giggle as we sniffle away the tears. That giggle is a little message to each other that says everything we can’t articulate. I crack a joke—probably something that we’ve been laughing about for ten years at this point—because otherwise we would never stop crying. Our hands still interlocked, the long first note of a song echoes around us, demanding our attention. That’s her cue.
My hands are now by my side, hers around a bouquet of blush pink flowers. I let her go and before I can say anything else to her, she is standing before me, a newlywed.
That’s how I imagine it will go, anyways.
Wedding talk always seems to revolve around what will come to be. Gifts for a future home—little salt shakers for midweek dinners and candles for special occasions; the bouquet traditionally caught by the future bride; all the “you’re next”s I hear from my relatives. Weddings celebrate life not yet lived. Except for my maid of honor speech, which is all about the past.
We’ve talked about this moment for years. Well, it couldn’t have been too long, because we only became friends when you left for college. We don’t talk about the time before that—weird. It’s strange to think about how much of our relationship has consisted of us leaving each other and reuniting, over and over.
First, you went on your gap year. It took the distance from Israel to Providence for me to learn how important you are to my sense of self. When you came home for Thanksgiving each year in college, I quickly realized how lucky I am to have a built-in best friend. And then you left again, for India—one of the hardest years of my life. Matthew had just left for college, and you were suddenly on the other side of the world. I didn’t realize how lost I would feel without you two to look up to. I never had to think about it until you left, but I hope you both know how grateful I am to have grown up in your company. And finally, you left for Cleveland to start your adult life.
Geographically, it was tough. But the distance between our stages of life never felt too big, and you made it so. I will always remember the time Mom mentioned to me that you told her I was your best friend. I teared up a little bit, because I must have been 16 and you 22. That was when my definition of a best friend changed forever. It didn’t matter how old we were, or how much we had in common, or even how much time we spent together. Best friendship is a feeling, one that you shared with me.
So I responded with “well, of course, she’s mine.” You loved me unconditionally when friendships were hard. You found me funny when no one else was laughing. You taught me that it’s okay to eat ice cream before dinner if that’s what I want. You were my preview for what life would be like. So thank you for showing me. Thank you for paving the way so bravely, and then coming back to tell me how it is out there. Thank you for teaching me to love myself when I had completely forgotten how. Thank you for being you, so I can be me.
There are a lot of unknowns out there, Gabby. For example, I’ll never understand why so many people think we’re twins. You’ll never know that inside joke between me and Matthew. Sorry, not even on your wedding day. And we may not always know the next time we’ll see each other. But that’s okay. Everything will be okay. You taught me that. You are strong, smart, motivated, and loving. A new chapter of your life has just begun, and I am so proud of you.
Our friendship might feel a little sprawled right now, but that has never stopped us before. Honestly, our relationship thrives on distance. I am so excited to watch you flourish from afar, and to see you up close when I get the chance.