December 4, 2015 | Posted in Challenges, Change, General, Love, Relationships | By


It was another “first day at my new school.” There had been many of those being raised as an Army brat but this one was different.

It was the first time we had ever lived in the “country.” I thought city schools were bad but it turns out that being an invisible fish is much better than being an outsider trying to find the smallest amount of space in an already too tiny pond.

I got on the bus and found the only seat available next to a red headed girl with a part down the middle of her hair and no bangs. She was weird. She had bunnies drawn all over her new binder and her clothes screamed… plain. This was clearly not the spot for me. I was unencumbered and looking for the kids who were outgoing and fun!

Being 9th graders on the high school bus meant we didn’t get choice seating. We were stuck with one another and it was obvious that “Carrie” was none to pleased to sit with me either.

After several weeks though, I started to make conversation and Carrie and I became fast friends. I was determined to get her some bangs in that long red hair, and she was determined to figure out why I was so weird. At that time, I had short hair with bright blonde “wings” of hair near my temples. My mom let me bleach it out during that regrettable phase in the 80’s of plastic highlighting caps that provided the unnatural streaks of big blonde teased and over-sprayed hair.

Carrie got bangs, I ended up with pink hair at some point, and we grew into best friends. We were inseparable for the entire 4 years of high school, which turned into a year of college that we both dropped out of, which turned into years and years of adulthood.

Not a single day went by when we didn’t talk, except for those brief periods when we were mad at one another. Once, we broke up for 6 whole months…. but then we were back to best friends like nothing ever happened.

Carrie named her first daughter after me… Elanee Heather and I named my last child after her… Carrie Sue.

I don’t think there could ever be a bigger honor. We even lived together for a short period of time before we realized that even we had limits of how much we could be together!

Her family had moved in with me and we had this huge plan to make it all work. We had our space, they had theirs, and it would all be perfect. Only it wasn’t. We were ready to kill one another! Carrie and her family moved out and we went back to best friends. 25 years had passed since we first sat on the bus in Romulus, NY together.

We had been through marriages, divorces, births, and even deaths. Carrie and I had another best friend. Originally, there were 3 of us; myself, Carrie, and our best friend Blake.

We met Blake in high school. He didn’t have many friends and Carrie and I were determined to befriend him and force him to have fun and love life! He  resisted at first, but he came around! We were friends for about 20 years at that point.

One morning, Carrie called hysterical. She just kept saying “Blake was dead! Blake was dead!” I thought it was a horrible joke, but it was true. Carrie had called him with a computer question, and his brother answered his cell phone. They were at the hospital with him, he was gone. He had just gotten out of the shower while he was getting ready for work, and he died of a brain aneurism. No sickness, no warning, no goodbyes, he was gone.

Carrie and I broke up a couple of months after Blake died. It was a tough time for both of us, but we got through it and were re-united as best friends again. Our kids were so happy. They too had become so close. We were like a big family really. Years went by, and I relocated back to New York. That is when we decided that her family would move in with me so she could be closer to her favorite town of Ithaca, NY.

The house I had bought had 4 acres and we had intended to eventually have her family build their own house and divide the property. So we didn’t have to live together but could still be neighbors.

It was shortly after Carrie moved out of my house that she found out she had colon cancer. Her and her family moved back to their old house, and she started to push people away. She was mad and she hadn’t spoken to me in several months. I understood.

One night, it was late, the phone rang, and all I heard Carrie say was “Are you going to come visit me or what?!?!”

She was in the hospital. She had just had major surgery to remove part of her colon and had a colostomy bag put in.

Without hesitation I said, “Yes, what room are you in?”

I went to the hospital, it was after visiting hours but I was allowed to stay. Carrie apologized for being mad and explained that she was mad about having cancer, that she was never mad at me. She was mad that she had to go through this and she was scared. I stayed the entire night with her.

After an entire night of laughing, crying, and catching up, I left the hospital the next morning feeling like my best friend was back again. Even though she was still mad and scared, and things were totally different, I knew we were OK.

Over the next 5 years, we didn’t hang out, we didn’t talk everyday, but we did stay in touch through our kids and the occasional email or card. She went through chemo, and surgery, but the cancer was not going away.

One morning, I got a call from her daughter who said she was in the hospital and not responding. She had requested hospice and was not going to survive the day. I didn’t know what to do.

I decided that I wouldn’t go. I wanted to remember my friend of 30 years the way I knew her. I wanted to remember the laughs, the milestones, the secrets, and the adventures. I didn’t want to see her dying.

Several days went by and Carrie was still hanging in there. She was unresponsive but very much alive. What if she was waiting for me? I heard her say to me again… “Are you coming to visit me or what?!?!”
It was Sunday morning, September 6th, 2015. I asked my husband Thad if he would bring me to the hospital. I arrived to see my best friend lying propped up in the hospital bed. I didn’t recognize her. I went to her bedside, and I sat and held her hand. Her hands still looked the same to me.

Holding her hand, I talked to her for a long time. I know she heard me because tears pooled up in the corners of her closed eyes. I told her that I loved her, I told her to say hello to Blake for me. I reminded her of our earliest memories, sitting on the school bus together and becoming best friends. I reminded her of the laughs, the adventures, the road trips, the kids, all the fun we had. I promised to always be there for her girls. I told her I loved her.

Carrie’s body died that afternoon, just a couple of hours after I left. I lost my best friend and there would be no getting back together from this one.

It’s been 3 months now. They say you experiences 5 stages of grief. I didn’t. I went straight for acceptance. There was no reason to deny reality. I didn’t feel angry although I was sad. I had nothing to bargain for, she couldn’t come back and depression wouldn’t serve me or honor my friends memory. So I went straight for acceptance.

I think back now and wonder how things might have been so different if there had been another seat available on the bus in 9th grade. Would any or all of this have been different? Would I have still lost my 2 best friends?

I guess it doesn’t really matter. I think all that matters is to live an adventure, forgive people, and to share as much love as you can.

Heather Paris inspires people all over the world to create happier lives through talks, workshops, blog posts, and her book, Live Inspired Now; A Field Guide For Happiness. For more information about transforming your relationship, family, or your life, contact Heather today!


  1. Monique
    December 5, 2015

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    What a difficult story to share.. Sorry for your loss, I know what she meant to you and to others…

  2. Debbie
    September 6, 2016

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    Thank you for sharing. Xxx

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