We’ve all got that one best friend that we do absolutely everything with. The friend that we can depend on for absolutely anything and everything. The one that is considered family.
For me, my best friend gained her wings nine years ago today. 3,287 days ago to be exact without my best friend. The one that I went to for literally everything, the one I could depend on for everything, my partner-in-crime, the sister I never had.
When she loved, she loved hard but if you ever crossed her, she’d make sure you knew where you stood and she definitely wasn’t one to sugarcoat anything.
She and I shared thousands of memories in her 16 years here on Earth, some of which I probably shouldn’t share here but she would want me to. I would share them all but neither I nor you have that kind of time. So I’ll just share three of them here. Regardless of how hard it is to select three from thousands of memories.
Some of my favorite memories with her include the time we went to Mardi Gras together in Mobile, Alabama, and saw a man whom we jokingly nicknamed “M&M Man,” due to his yellow M&M jacket. Another one of my favorites is the “Baby monitor,” I won’t go into detail about that one, you just had to be there to really understand how funny it really was.
Another one of my favorite memories with Jody is being the mascot while she was a cheerleader two years in a row in middle school. The memories that we made together could never be replaced.
I like to think of our friendship as a “Bonnie & Clyde” type relationship even though neither of us would ever have killed anybody. Even though, it may have crossed our minds a time or two when it came to our siblings, but we laughed because we literally never took anything at all seriously. If one of us needed the other, we knew all we had to do was pick the phone up and we’d be there for each other.
If you ever saw one of us, the other wasn’t too far behind. I can’t think of too much that we didn’t do together. The friendship that the two of us shared seemingly doesn’t exist these days.
The day before she gained her wings, I was calling a 100-inning fundraiser baseball game at Wetumpka High School that morning and she was set to take part in the Beauty and Beau pageant at the school that night.
When I arrived at the baseball field that morning, I received a text from her as I entered the press box that said “I’m comin up there with you,” to which I responded, “Come on then, I’ve already got a seat ready for you up here.”
The two of us sat in the press box at Bazemore Field together for all 100 innings of the game. That night, she competed in the Beauty and Beau pageant. Little did either of us know what would happen the next day.
February 2, 2014 started out like an ordinary day. It was the day of Super Bowl 48 between Denver and Seattle. I was in the back of the house on the computer at about 4:30pm when my mom comes running into the room from the kitchen and screams “Jody! It’s Jody!” At the time my first thought was ‘Oh God, what has she done now?’
At 5pm, my brother comes in and takes my phone from me. Something just wasn’t adding up to me. What was happening? But I didn’t think anything of it, I just continued on the computer.
Then at 6:30pm, the phone rings, it’s mon so I pick it up and say “Hello?” The next thing I heard left me speechless. Mom said “Jody’s gone. I can’t talk right now I’ll be home after a while.”
I hung the phone up and didn’t say anything. I couldn’t even believe what I had just heard. My best friend was gone. She had gained her wings.
A few days later, I was asked by her brother to be a pallbearer at her funeral on the 6th. I didn’t know if I could do it. I didn’t know if I was mentally strong enough to carry my best friend one last time. But then, I knew she wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
That night was visitation. I walked up to the back door of the church and entered the fellowship hall, where I was met with hugs from everybody in her family. They escorted me into the sanctuary.
When I entered the sanctuary, I fell apart. It was real. She was gone. I walked to the front pew and sat down in front of her with tears flowing down my face.
At the funeral, the school shut down because of it and to this day, I still haven’t seen anything like it the sanctuary was completely full. When it was time for us to carry the casket out of the sanctuary I pulled down the aviator sunglasses that i had hooked to my sports coat and pointed to the sky.
I gripped the casket with tear-filled eyes, lifted it and loaded it into the hearse. I turned around afterward and was met with more hugs and words of encouragement.
All of the pallbearers rode in one truck behind the hearse, we listened to rap the whole way to the cemetery, I know, we probably shouldn’t have, but we did it anyway. After all, she would’ve laughed about it and she probably did.
When we got to the cemetery, we pulled in and parked. Then we loaded the casket onto the lowering table. Afterwards, I fell apart again and was met with more hugs.
I had just laid my best friend to rest. Jody, thank you so much for everything you ever did for me and for making sure I’m safe every day from Heaven. As bad as I wish you were still here with me, it comforts to know that our best days haven’t come yet, because they will come in Heaven one day. For now, I promise you will live on in my heart.
I know we didn’t always agree on things but I thank God every day that we never let that get between us and the friendship that we shared and still share to this day. I take the the most pride in telling people that my best friend is in the presence of God and there I too, will be when my time comes.
As long as I live, I will never forget the phone call I received on February 2, 2014. I will do whatever it takes to keep Jody’s name alive.
Rest easy beautiful, I love you more than you will ever even begin to know. You’re always going to be safe with me. Save me a seat in Heaven beside you.
Hold your loved ones tight folks. Tell them you love them.