My best friend’s passing will always be associated with my daughter’s last psychotic breakdown.
There was a deep connection between my best friend and my daughter. They loved each other, yet there existed a gossamer thread of jealousy.
Maybe it was because my friend didn’t have any children and could not relate when I dropped whatever I was doing if my daughter needed me. Maybe it was because my daughter yearned for a friendship similar to the one I shared with my friend.
But whatever the reason, I would often find myself balancing the two relationships.
It should have come as no surprise to me that the night of my friend’s death was no different. It’s been almost a year and those moments are as vivid as if they happened yesterday.
My friend was on hospice with her family by her side. She was not dying from COVID-19, but COVID-19 had kept me from seeing her for the past few months. Earlier that day we had spoken on the phone and I had planned on visiting her the next day. I was going to mask up and wear a Hazmat suit if needed. So strong was my love and need to hold her hand.
My daughter was living with us at the time, supposedly clean and sober, recently reunified with her fifteen-month-old daughter.
Also, living with us was my teenage granddaughter.
Around midnight, I knew something wasn’t right. My daughter was pacing around with her baby, mumbling strange things. I’d been through this behavior before. I knew the symptoms. She was heading toward her dark abyss.
At 1:15 am, my phone rang. The caller ID said it all. My body shivered. My friend had left us, me, too soon. I wanted more time. Her passing sat on my skin like beads of oil, waiting to be absorbed.
I stared at our ceiling fan. Too numb to cry.
Shortly after the call, my granddaughter rushed into the bedroom.
My daughter was in a full-blown psychotic episode. After living through several of these breakdowns, I knew I could no more shake the demons out of her than I could mend a fractured ankle by placing my hands on the broken bone.
I also knew the moment my granddaughter called 911 that her sister would be taken away. The future barreled toward us and there was nothing I could do to stop it.
My youngest grandchild went back to her foster family. A home where she is well-loved and happy. My daughter checked herself into a rehab center and joined the small statistic of those who stop using and are rebuilding their lives and relationships.
In the quiet of the night, I tell my friend about those horrible hours and how sorry I am. Sorry I didn’t have time to see her before she died and how my first hours of mourning were stolen from me by my daughter.
I hear her whisper, “Did you expect it to be any different?”
Back then, I did. Not anymore.
In retrospect, the night played out exactly as it should have. My friend didn’t suffer. My daughter turned her life around.
I no longer live with expectations. Expectations lead to disappointments. Disappointments bring anxiety. Anxiety takes me to a fear of not knowing what to expect. I don’t live inside that circle anymore.
Instead, I live inside a circle of acceptance. I live one day at a time with the knowledge that the only person I can control is myself.
I speak to my friend daily. She answers in the form of a falling leaf, fluttering bird wings, and heart-shaped clouds.
And when I close my eyes, I see her aura protecting my daughter.
Janie Emaus is an author/blogger and her short stories, essays and poems have been published in numerous magazines, websites, and anthologies. To learn more about Janie, visit her website at janieemaus.com.
This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.