What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

(Author: Alice Bradley)

This year will be the year that my first close friend died. All of the people who died before this year were grandparents, cousins that I didn’t see very often, parents of friends from college or high school, or people I barely knew. This was the year that one of my confidants, a person on the “bail you out of jail no questions asked/will help you bury the body” list, died.

She was my age. I met her in kindergarten. That’s right. I knew her when I was five. We both got tracked into the gifted and talented track in school but we didn’t become friends until high school. Then we went to college on our separate ways and got back in touch again.

I attended her kids birthday parties. I usually dropped by during the holidays.

She had MS but most days she was doing really well. She was walking and talking fine. She didn’t have any visible symptoms of the disease. Then one day, I got a text message from a mutual friend that she was real sick. I was out of town and by the time I called, she was in a coma. She died the next day.

I still remember how cold her hand was when I touched it when she was in the coffin. I know it’s morbid but for some reason I just reached out and her hand was so cold. I’m guessing that the funeral home keeps the bodies in some sort of refridgerated room. It was creepy.

The kids are now the center of a crazy custody dispute between the biological father and my friend’s parents. I have no control over that. There’s no way in hell that I am far enough away to be objective enough to actually represent anyone in the scenario, In fact, since I witnessed the last conversation between Baby daddy and my friend ever, I was a fact witness and couldn’t do it because the rules of professional conduct forbid that sort of thing. Yet watching the case unfold from a distance was incredibly hard. Since it was my friend, of course, every single thing that was differently than the way I would have done it was the thing that was going to make the case go straight to hell. It’s called a lack of professional distance.

I kept having nightmares that the kids were going to get hurt and that I would go to Heaven and have to explain everything to my friend. I could hear her asking, “why didn’t you get her to do this? Why did this happen? Why didn’t you explain . . . ”

Attorneys, by their very nature, are stubborn and will do pretty much what they want to do. But since I am also attorney, people kept wanting to talk to me about the case. Now that is an even more awkward position. I can’t actually represent them according to the laws of professional conduct. I’m not actually part of the case and so confiding in me seems like such a bad idea. I know that attorney client privilege can be waived by talking to third parties and there I am, a third party but because I am a friend who is also an attorney.

I had to keep my distance. If I got a subpoena, what would I do? I’m not part of the office so there’s no work product or any other privilege that keeps anybody from asking me who the hell knows what. Right now, I don’t even feel comfortable being around certain mutual friends and acquaintances due to the possibility that I get dragged into the case even more than I already am. I don’t want to make anything worse.

I miss the kids. I miss talking to them and yet I feel like every little thing they tell me is going to be subject to some sort of attorney scrutiny from one or the other side. So I feel like I can’t really talk to them. They are out of state so it isn’t as awkward as it could be but it is still awkward.

One time, I went to her grave and all of these emotions came flying out and I started crying and telling her that I was sorry. I didn’t even realize that I felt responsible for anything until I had these lung heavy loud sobs that had me lying on the ground. I finally got myself together when I saw an SUV stopped in front of the cemetery near where I lay.

I got up and wiped my tears and realized I couldn’t do this to myself. I have no control over any of it. I was the best friend I could be. I had to let the rest of it go. The worry regarding the kids and what my friend would say was pulling me under to a very dark place. I had to let go to live.