Once upon a time, in a land very, very close by, my best friend got married. My very best friend in the world. And she asked me to be her matron of honor and I was totally….honored. And it was wonderful and blissful – after all, she was MY maid of honor at my wedding and we were the closest of friends. So close, people thought we were lesbians until I got married. We talked about her hopes and dreams and all that other fluffy stuff. I even went through a wedding magazine with her without throwing up. Then we went to a bridal store and picked out her gown, and flowers and everything was turning out so nicely.
Then one day not soon after, I peed on a stick and found out I was pregnant with my first child. Ah! What a blessing! What wonderful news to share with my best friend! And the due date was a month before her wedding!! I wouldn’t even have to have a big pregnancy bridesmaid dress! I couldn’t wait to tell her the news. A baby!! Not really a planned baby – but a wanted baby!! She seemed so happy for me. She talked excitedly about putting together a baby shower (she loves to plan stuff). Could life get any sweeter than this?
No. It couldn’t. She invited me over for dinner a week later so that we could talk about her wedding and my baby. Excellent!! We could celebrate some more! As we dined on take out and she made sure I didn’t even sneak a sip of wine, she told me that her fiance was uncomfortable having me in the wedding. SCREECH. The needle on the record just scratched. WHAT?
Yes, although it was true that we’d been inseparable since our first week of college and we didn’t do anything without each other for many years, her fiance didn’t feel my presence in the wedding was appropriate any more. Apparently, he thought that perhaps I got pregnant just to take the attention away from her, where it should be, and a good friend would not have gotten knocked up the same year her best friend planned to get married. Plus, she explained, it was probably bad for my health and she thought I probably wouldn’t want to come after giving birth and she was really doing me a favor. By kicking me out of her wedding. My best friend. BUT…this isn’t all bad…she had thought of a role called a “bride’s assistant” that she thought I might be perfect for. Meanwhile, her sister had been promoted to matron of honor and she was sure I would understand.
Wait. Hold up. What is a bride’s assistant you ask? Apparently it is a job you get when you get kicked out of your best friend’s wedding for having a baby. She gently assuaged me by promising that I could still do a toast and even buy a bridesmaid dress if I wanted. To look like I was in the wedding. I wondered where this Bridezilla was hiding my best friend? I wanted her back. I needed her back. I was having a fucking baby! She was getting married! We were going to do this together like we’d done everything else, of course. Right? RIGHT?! Best friends forever!! I told her I would be there if I had to have my baby during the ceremony. I promised I could live up to all of my duties. I would never let her down – and I meant it. I mean, didn’t it say something about my loyalty that I was begging to be in a wedding? This is coming from a girl who doesn’t like weddings, or dresses, or flowers or showers or any of that. And I’m begging to dress up in a color that makes my skin look like vomit a month after I give birth to my first child?
It wasn’t enough. On that day that I got fired from her wedding, our best friendship (and my heart) broke in two, and nothing has ever been the same since. I guess you might say we patched things up – we managed civil, distant and awkward conversations. I had to regretfully inform her that while it was a very tempting offer, I could not take the “bride’s assistant” job and dress up like the bridesmaids so I could pretend to be in the wedding. I would just go as a guest. As fate would have it, she decided to promote me to bridesmaid after her fiance’s sister, another bridesmaid, got knocked up too. So after I got kicked out of the wedding, I got to get back in because someone else got preggers. I never heard whether her husband thought his sister had also plotted to have a child just to ruin their wedding, but apparently he became more comfortable with my participation in it. I know in my heart this wasn’t his call. It was hers and she felt betrayed and it was convenient to blame it on him. During the next 9 months, she planned her wedding and I planned for my baby and we grew apart with an ocean of resentment between us.
In all that time, she never asked about my pregnancy or my baby, as if neither existed. I asked about the wedding, but it was hard to care about what the answer was. My best friend had died months ago.
Three weeks before her wedding, I gave birth to my son and nearly died in during the “routine” c-section. My parents called her. She came to the hospital. She didn’t really want to have much to do with the baby, but she was a little weirded out that I almost bled to death, so she came. And that counted for something, but I think she was probably thinking right then she had totally made the right decision, because there was no way I’d be at her wedding now.
Three weeks later, I left my newborn and my husband and flew to her wedding drugged with pain pills and crying the whole way. I dutifully strapped myself into a girdle, put on a very ill fitting bridesmaid dress, popped my pills every two hours and did what I was told to do. I was still really swollen everywhere from the blood transfusions and anemic. I was likely the most misshapen bridesmaid of all time, but I did it for her. To honor what we had before this. This was her day and it was beautiful and she was lovely. But she had underestimated me. I was there. Not at home with my new little baby. At my best friend’s wedding. The one she originally kicked me out of.
At the reception, she asked me about when I wanted to give the toast. Toast? What toast? Doesn’t the matron of honor do that? We hadn’t ever said a word about that since the day she dismissed me from the matron of honor job. I told her I forgot all about that. I wanted to forget any of it ever happened, but alas…I honestly had no idea she was expecting a toast from me – the person who knew her better than anybody at that wedding save her new husband — and who got kicked out of her wedding for having a baby. I hadn’t prepared anything. I declined to do a toast. She was shocked. I was relieved. The toast I would have given her the day she asked me to be her matron of honor was so much different then any toast I could give her now. Did she not understand that?
Since then, we’ve both had two kids and live in the same city and have careers — we still have a lot in common. But we’re just barely friends. She still invites me to her parties and I accept once a year. My other friends tell me I should “divorce” her. But I can’t. And I won’t. To honor what we once had. Which was a friendship. True friendship. Like Oprah and Gayle. Like Liz Lemon and Jack Doneghy. Like Jon and Kate, before the eight.
And even though its been a long road, I’m sure we’ll all live happily ever after…