I have known Emmy since I was hmm, at least six? Since as long as our parents have been best friends, and I can’t remember a time they weren’t. Every time Kate and Emmy came over, or we went to their house, I was so nervous. Even though Emmy was only one year older than me, I looked up to her so much. I tried to play it cool, but I remember just wanting to dress like her, and do what she did. Kate, and my twin sisters were way more alike. They did the sports thing, and for once I was totally okay with not being just like them. Cause I had Emmy. I remember doing our nails in her room, and her doing my hair. The sleepovers were the best. Especially at the Gaffey house, because there was so much room for activities :). I think the best thing about my admiration for Emmy was that it never changed, nor went away. As we both were growing up, I still “creeped” on her Facebook, and admired her clothes, and wanted to know how she always got her hair just perfect. But it wasn’t just how Emmy looked that I always admired, it was how she presented herself. She was so lovely, and confident. In many ways, I think Emmy taught me how to be confident without her even knowing it. I don’t think I fully realized how often I thought about Emmy until God made her an angel. I think about Emmy almost every day. Just last night, I had a dream Kate and I were laughing about stories about Emmy. Being in Hong Kong, I can’t help but think how much Emmy would love it here…..or at least the shopping. Every store reminds me of her, and I am truly grateful for that. I love the twitter someone created of little excerpts from Emmy. I go on her Facebook often to just say a little hello. I woke up this morning to a message from my mom saying she ordered matching Emmy Land bracelets for me and my sisters. I can not wait to wear it every day. The more reminders of Emmy throughout the day, the better!
I can’t even imagine how beautiful you must look as an angel Emmy.
You are so missed.
The first time I saw Emily was my senior year in high school. Everyone had been telling me I had a younger “twin” wandering the halls, and when we finally met eye to eye I thought to myself, “yes…a much better looking twin.” She was always far prettier than I and no one will convince me otherwise. She was a lot of things I always wished I could be. But we’ll get to that.
She intrigued me. The only interactions we had were brief – passing in the hallway, social media comments, frivolous things. It was not just our similar looks that interested me, but there was something about her that seemed familiar. I felt connected to her, I cared about where her life went – much like I would any one of my actual friends. Even when I went off to college and never saw her or had anything to do with her, I always felt a strong need to make sure she was okay, and that things were headed in a good direction for her. To this day, I cannot explain this.
Fast forward 8 years and I was living at home after college. I had already been creepily trying to figure out ways to connect with her, and fortunately one night I was having dinner with one of our mutual friends. I got up from the table to refill my drink and when I returned, I noticed he was texting her. “ARE YOU TEXTING EMMY?!” I exclaimed, “LET’S HANG OUT WITH HER!” And I really meant it. I truly, deep down, felt that this girl was destined to be my best friend. I do not know why, or what purpose this ultimately served, but I remember this night so clearly because it was the night I finally met my soul friend.
So we drove over to her house, the beauty of which matched her perfectly. As we pulled up into her large, circular driveway I saw Emmy run up and open the door – laughing. She was always laughing, and she was ALWAYS TAN. This was a mystery I was very anxious to solve (and thank goodness she passed her tricks of the trade onto me). After hovering in her doorway for a bit we headed over to a bar (which is another story entirely), and that was that. Really. One night and we were best friends. I saw her every single day after that night, up until I moved away.
And I’m telling you – something in me finally felt complete. I think for most of my life I had been searching for someone that really understood me, someone with whom our connection is assumed. I finally felt at peace that I had found a friend I could lean on for the rest of my life. I know this all sounds like the beginning of a lesbian romance novel but it was never that way at all. We sincerely just loved each other like sisters (and, much of our relationship was centered around our deep, passionate love for men). I think there are people you are destined to meet and share life with, and, sadly now, she was one of them for me.
A few days after we lost her, my boyfriend asked me this question, “What are you losing, by losing Emmy?” I was laying in bed staring at the ceiling and after a few thoughtful moments I responded slowly and carefully, “Everything. I am literally losing everything.”
People really didn’t keep tabs on our friendship once I moved away, and there is part of me that feels a little sick for the abandonment she felt when I did leave. But I felt closer to her after I left than when I was in town – because our sisterly love lived on. At about 1am on most nights you would find us talking on the phone, giggling about boys and tanning products and mascara. You could stand outside my bedroom door and hear me laughing late into the night, because Emmy still is one of the only people who has been able to make me laugh.
I would visit for a week or so at a time every 6 months, to see her. My family was there but – – she was my reason for going back. We would map out each day prior to my arrival with ridiculous activities, spend every minute together, and cry when I left. Every time. My last in person memory of her is at about midnight in the parking lot of RA Sushi (our official stomping grounds). We had already hugged goodbye and she ran back up to my car, tears streaming down her face, and yelled through the closed window, “I love you forever Lizard you are my bestest friend in the whole world.” You have no idea how many times I have laid awake at night replaying that moment over the past two months.
I could also tell her everything, and that is what I mean when I say I have lost “everything.” There were no limits. Any insecurity, fear, shameful thought or secret – she knew about it, and her responses were always exactly what I needed. Obviously we were two different people, but we were cut from the same cloth. Anything I ever needed to say out loud to someone, she understood, and she loved me anyway. And we loved the same things. We loved beautiful things, we loved our hair. We loved being tan, but most of all – we loved Sephora. This may seem insignificant to you, but it is not. Finding another woman who not only loves and appreciates Sephora, but would be willing to pitch a tent and live there, is not easy. I cannot even begin to count the times that one of us would answer the phone, “Oh, I’m at Sephora,” and the other would respond, “Um, obviously.”
It is a shared connection that no one else understands.
But aside from all of her joyous beauty, there was another element to Emmy, one that I spent two years trying to solve. She was sad. There was a deep, dark sadness inside of her that I could never seem to fix, despite my best efforts. Now, I am a person who has spent a solid amount of time being sad. Life has had its trials, and overwhelming pain isn’t too far from my personal experience – but this was different. It seemed irreversible. This sadness provided a lot of ups and downs for not only her, but for us. I was one of the closest to understanding the depth of this pain she had, and sometimes I think she didn’t want really anyone to get too close. In her last few months on earth our interactions lessened, an unusual amount for us. My boyfriend would ask me what had happened, why were we talking less – and if we were still friends. My response was always the same, that there would never be a day that Emmy would not be my best friend, no matter what life dealt us, no matter how she was hurting or how I couldn’t remedy it, I knew she was a non-negotiable, permanent, cemented part of my life. Oh what I wouldn’t give for that to be true now.
And now she’s gone, and I live with her name permanently inked onto my rib cage, as a reminder of her beauty, and of everything she taught me. Emmy couldn’t accept love from others because she couldn’t love herself, which is ultimately what drove her to leave us. Another element to our connection, is that I struggle with the same principle – and I have all my life. We didn’t just laugh together, we also wept together. Emotions ran a little deeper in us, and in retrospect I have realized that a lot of the mutual understanding we shared was more commiseration than anything. We felt the same emptiness, we saw life through the same lens, and knowing that the other was there, feeling the often desolation of this plague – made each of us feel a little less alone. At least, for me it did. But now it’s just me again. While that is a horribly unpleasant feeling (understatement) it also creates an opportunity for me to live for the both of us; to learn to love myself, to accept that others love me, and to bask in the wonderful gifts of being alive. I can promise this is easier said than done but every time I step into the shower and see that ink on my side in the mirror – I remember. I remember her sadness, I remember her love, and I remember the job I need to do not just for me – but for her too.
Emmy was so many things I always wished I could be, and one of those things is fun. Emmy was a blast, and anyone who knows her would agree with me. The best part about this, is that she made me fun too. In fact, one of my first memories of her was being out on the town, and realizing we both had an intense mutual love for Sia. After that night, every single time this song came we would stop everything and hold hands. It was our song.
I will hold this song, and my precious Emmy, closest to my heart for the rest of my life. The journey of each day without her is just beginning, but hopefully this post is a start.