By Madeline Shapiro
I have one day to prepare a eulogy about a friend I said goodbye to long ago, at least the version of her I knew when we were close. I’ve got no clue where to start or what to say because all I feel is anger, and I know that isn’t the emotion I’m trying to convey. Sasha was a fierce and passionate girl who always lived in the moment. But there were only three things to which Sasha could ever truly commit. The first, never leaving the house until achieving the perfect makeup look; the second, popping her daily Xanax pills; and the third—being my best friend. Ultimately, though, she was only able to stay committed to one of these three because addiction is sneaky. It slithers up your back and right down your throat until it finally makes its way into your heart, and it leaves no room to love anything else. It drills a hole through your skull and sets up camp in the deepest and darkest parts of your brain. It makes a home for itself and it won’t pack up and go, and even when it falls silent, I don’t think it ever truly leaves. I knew I would say none of that in the eulogy, though.
I could open with a funny story about Sasha from when we were in high school. Whenever Sasha took a Xanax, she stole. Once, she got chased out of Trader Joes during lunch in the eleventh grade for what we called “the salmon avocado incident.” Our entire friend group was late for fifth period, but she didn’t even care because her main concern was that she would starve. However, in her defense, her favorite food in the world was a salmon avocado roll. So maybe I’d talk about how every Friday night we would sit in the bright red booth by the window at Sushi Dan. We would order salmon avocado rolls, and in between each bite and burning our tongues on hot miso soup, we would share our most intimate secrets and her infectious laugh would spread like wildfire. Sasha’s sushi heist didn’t seem like the most appropriate event to highlight under the circumstances, though.
I could talk about Sasha’s deep love for the art of mastering the perfect makeup look and how she was one of the most beautiful girls in the world. Granted, most of Sasha’s makeup was stolen, but she always rocked it. I mean, every guy wanted to date her and every girl wanted to be her, including me—her best friend.
I could talk about how, whenever I would get drunk freshman year of college, I would throw up and cry about how Noah Williams wasn’t in love with me. Sasha would always hold my hair back and then we’d lie on the bathroom floor together. But most importantly, she’d remind me that just because Noah didn’t love me didn’t mean nobody else ever would. Maybe I shouldn’t tell that story at the memorial, though, because my mother is going to be there and she believes anyone who drinks more than one beer in a night is an alcoholic with severe emotional issues to work out. I could also just say that she was always there for me no matter what, because as far as loyal friends go she was without a doubt the most loyal of them all.
Maybe I’d just tell her family I wouldn’t be able to give the eulogy at all. A year after our friendship died, she did, too. How could I stand before a room full of my childhood friends that I haven’t spoken to in years and explain that I tried to save her, but that you can’t save someone who doesn’t want to be saved? I could admit that I felt like a fraud, because all the people who remember me as her last real best friend didn’t realize that our paths had strayed so far apart. They didn’t understand that I’ve been harboring so much anger in my heart. Anger for abandoning our friendship over pills and powder that made her feel happy and safe in a way I’d never be able to do.
What I really want to say, though, is that Sasha is the only person in the world who really understood me, who recognized all of my flaws but never asked me to change them. Sasha never made me feel guilty for who I am, but rather encouraged me to embrace it. She taught me how to have a backbone, and that it was okay to like myself and be confident. But most importantly, she taught me how to do my makeup. Well, she tried, anyway, but I don’t think it ever quite lived up to her standards.
I won’t stand up in front of friends and family and say that she was perfect because nobody is. But I think my favorite part about Sasha is that she never pretended to be perfect and she gave everyone else permission to do the same—to not be perfect with her. I have one day to prepare this eulogy and I don’t think I’ll ever find the right words to sum up Sasha. But honestly, I’m hungry and a salmon avocado roll sounds pretty good right now. I only wish she were here to share it with me.