July 30, 2008


I have a tendency to avoid the word best when referring to friendships. It seems a short, curt word to describe a being who should be more than illustrious and grand and above all other comrades.

Researching other words for best, I have come to dislike: top, finest, greatest, unsurpassed, paramount, preeminent, most excellent and, superlative. These expressions seem inferior or condescending when describing how I truly feel about my closest of friends.

I do not surround myself with umpteen mates. I find it hard to keep up. I'm not well organized that way. My time management skills are not exceptional and I lack the energy which I believe is required. Don't misinterpret this for laziness or selfishness. Those I hold as close chums and pals are regarded with obeisance, respect and love, yet all are aware that I hold each at arms length. I am wary of attachment as I am mindful that friends are not eternal. Friendships, even close ones, can be altered, transformed, eroded - even shattered entirely.

My earliest memory of a friendship was with Jann. She was my confidant. She was my ever-smiling, overjoyed, blithe-clown. In my world of elder parenting, death and detachment, Jann was my one constant for a decade of delight. We would run the slough of despond from one end to the other, we would climb trees, and we would play dolls and run amuck in each others yards. We bowled, and drank root beer through straws of liquorice.

My grandmother adored Jann. She was the ying to my yang.

There were other girls and boys whom were regarded as friends at the time. There was Barbara D., Eddy and David L. And Debbie or Karen and her sister Charlene. There was Grace and Crystal. There was Jenny. There was Vinny and Trish. There was Janice and then David and Chris. Eleanor and Nikki. But none of them were Jann.

We moved effortlessly through elementary school, though Jann was a year younger than I and full grade behind me, our friendship surpassed the social serpentine meanderings of pre-adolescence.

But the year my grandmother moved me to Vanderhoof, our companionship changed. A failed test through absence that never recovered. The vast emptiness and time apart from each other was the beginning of our slow deliberate parting. Upon returning to my home-town and through junior high, we came and went from each other. Common friends reunited us at intervals, but the friendship was tarnished silver. Through senior high, Jann had become someone I didn’t recognize and I forced myself to invade her space and time and find out where the old Jann went. I wanted my ying back, but the smiling bubbly cherub became a distant ghost of a shadow, reaching out for attention through her appearance, her prose and her art. She was expressing herself in ways which I never new she possessed the skills to. For this, I was selfish friend for not knowing the darkest of secrets Jann possessed for more than a decade. I had never asked.

I lost Jann and I was heartbroken.