Mommy Wants Vodka

…Or A Mail-Order Bride

It. Must. Be.

January4

I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what I’d say to her, given the chance. It’s a pointless endeavor, for sure, considering she’s been dead for almost three years. Or is it more than three years? She died when Alex was a baby, a couple months before I got pregnant with my daughter.

One last conversation. What would I say to her?

I could tell her that I admired her from the moment I met her, when we were eleven and thirteen, respectively; just kids, really. There was an instant chemical reaction between us, the kind that occurs once or twice in a lifetime, if you’re really lucky. It’s like our cells pulled us toward other. We would be friends. Our cells were determined. So were The Fates.

We’d always be thrown in front of each other, at this party or that. She dated one of my best friends for a very long time. She was friends with the little sister of one of my older friends. We were both talented cellists – although her talent was far beyond mine – which meant we were in orchestra together for a couple of years.

In Beethoven’s String Quartet Number, he scribbled Grave, (Muss es sein?/Must it be?), Allegro (Es muss sein!/It must be!), and that’s how I thought of our friendship, of any good friendship:

Must it be? It must be.

I’ve stopped believing in the randomness of the universe and when I think back to all of the times we happened upon each other, once again, I realize: It Must Be.

Would I tell her how I admired her when she walked tall and proud so sure of herself, while the rest of us shuffled along; all elbows and knees, not sure what we stood for? Because I admired the hell out of her. Bracelets jangling, jeans hugging her hips, a vintage Stones t-shirt effortless put together, she was larger than life at age sixteen.

I’d never known anyone like that before.

I’d never known anyone who would take my side, either. Every other friend I’d had shoved me under the bus at wink of an eye or waggle of the hips; the betrayals vaguely reminiscent of my childhood, where no one had ever been on my side. When she showed up to tell my cheating boyfriend to fuck off or my former friend that she was being a total asshole, I was stunned. It had always just been me. Defending, well, me. Maybe I’d tell her that it was sad that I was twenty before I knew that kind of friendship.

Maybe I’d tell her that I’d lived my life the daughter of a bipolar alcoholic and I was sorry that she’d found herself there, too. Because I was. So sorry. We’d tried to reach her, my God we tried, but she was lost in the bottle and not a single one of us who had loved her back when she sparkled and shone, not one of us could get through. But we tried because we still loved her and we still believed that she was in there.

I could tell her that her funeral was so full of people who loved her that it was standing room only.

That when the string trio started playing “As Tears Go By,” the entire room wept. We all wept at the tragedy of losing someone who had so much of that sparkle, so much of that shine.

How the image of her two sons screaming and wailing to, “See MOMMY!” as they shut the casket will be forever seared into the brains of so many as the most heartbreaking thing we’ve ever seen.

She is so, so loved.

I could tell her that two years later, I still cannot talk about her without crying. How I cannot hear “Tears Go By” without weeping. How I still have her phone number in my address book. How I dedicated Band Back Together to her because I think the stigma of mental illness and alcoholism and all those demons we hide, I think that’s bullshit. How I think she’d like the site.

I guess I could tell her any of those things if I saw Stef again. But I think she’d already know.

Maybe I’d just hug her one last time, have one last laugh and say the right words: Must it be? It must be.

87 Comments to

“It. Must. Be.”

  1. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:06 pm Rachel Says:

    Oh Becky,

    She would be so honored, so proud and know how loved she is.. just through these words.

    What a beautiful tribute to an obviously amazing person.

    The world is a better place because of her and your memory of her is touching.

    <3 you

  2. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:07 pm Kristin Says:

    This is beautifully written. And Amazing. She was lucky to have you and you her. I am so sorry she is gone. Hugs and love to you is all I can truly say.

  3. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:07 pm Angie [A Whole Lot of Nothing] Says:

    I love you so.

    I don’t know what else to say other than that.

  4. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:07 pm mae Says:

    Well shit. Becky. Dammit.

    I’m so glad you had a friend like that. And so sad for you that she’s gone.

    Thank you for sharing her with us.

  5. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:08 pm Laura Says:

    Wow. This certainly brought tears to my eyes. I’m so sorry for your loss — a loss that was clearly felt by so many people.

    And you are so right. The stigma of alcoholism and mental illness and other demons is BS.

    Hugs.

  6. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:09 pm Halala Mama Says:

    Beautiful Becky….

  7. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:09 pm Lynn MacDonald (All Fooked Up) Says:

    Watching a train wreck insole motion is one of the most horrific things to see. Being best friends with that train wreck is worse. It’s so difficult when you can’t save people from themselves.

    I’m sorry.

  8. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:11 pm Jenine Says:

    Damn. I really can’t think of a comment that would fill the void that this post left in me. That I’m so sorry for your loss just doesn’t cut it. Just… Damn. 🙁

  9. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:12 pm Linz Says:

    Hugs. So many hugs. And infinite love. Wish we all could have known her in person, she sounds amazing.

  10. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:13 pm nic @mybottlesup Says:

    oh lady… she’s proud.

    very very proud.

  11. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:14 pm Becky G. Says:

    A beautiful tribute. Hugs!

  12. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:14 pm Jana A Says:

    I love you, hon… She’s proud of you.

  13. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:16 pm Kali Says:

    This made my heart ache. I too have known that kind of friendship and lost it. Beautifully written. But you know that already. 🙂

  14. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:16 pm Kali Says:

    This made my heart ache. I too have known that kind of friendship and lost it. Beautifully written. But you know that already. 🙂

  15. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:17 pm Sunday @ Please Stand Up Says:

    Sobbing! Red faced! Snot nosed! Missing and loving my once in a life time sister-friend. We were lucky to have known them for the short time we did. (((Hug)))

    Yes, It Must Be…

  16. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:17 pm mel Says:

    I’m sorry.

  17. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:20 pm Krista Says:

    Oh, that just made me cry. Thank you for taking the time to share her with us.

  18. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:20 pm Nicki Says:

    Amazingly, beautifully written. Big Hugs to you.

  19. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:20 pm PBBDesigns Says:

    Beautiful.
    Simply beautiful.
    You’ve made me cry yet again. Not too hard to do these days. My moms best friend passed away from cancer in 2009 the day before I arrived for a visit. Mom just published her journal which she wrote during the last 9 months of her friend’s ordeal. I thought of that while I was reading your post because they, too, were meant to be.
    Love you and giving you long distance hugs.
    P

  20. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:20 pm PBBDesigns Says:

    Beautiful.
    Simply beautiful.
    You’ve made me cry yet again. Not too hard to do these days. My moms best friend passed away from cancer in 2009 the day before I arrived for a visit. Mom just published her journal which she wrote during the last 9 months of her friend’s ordeal. I thought of that while I was reading your post because they, too, were meant to be.
    Love you and giving you long distance hugs.
    P

  21. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:22 pm Elle Says:

    This was so touching to read. She sounds like a a wonderful friend and dynamic woman. Truly hard to come by.

  22. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:22 pm Elle Says:

    This was so touching to read. She sounds like a a wonderful friend and dynamic woman. Truly hard to come by.

  23. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:22 pm Twitch Says:

    Alcohol is so destructive. Especially in the mentally ill. My father is schizophrenic and alcoholic, among other things. The destruction that the alcohol has caused my family doesn’t go away. The pain and loss of a loved one, that never goes away. They seem to burn into your being. I am SO sorry for the loss of your friend. Friends so loyal and honest are so rare. So valuable. May her fire always burn brightly in you.

    My sincerest hugs and tears.

  24. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:22 pm Pam Says:

    Wow, that was a lovely post!

    I stumbled here some how or other…glad I did!

  25. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:22 pm Lauren Elyse Says:

    I wish there were words for how hauntingly beautiful this is. How much the ache of losing her comes across yet is overshadowed by the love of knowing her. Grief is an impossible thing. There are no words that can truly tell you that while I can never know exactly what you feel, I understand the utter despair of your loss and the intense joy of her memory. I hope everyone grieving the loss of anyone, no matter how recent or ancient, how tragic or expected, can read this and find comfort in your beautiful words.

  26. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:22 pm mommakiss Says:

    Losing such a piece of you had to be hard, I can somewhat relate. I’m glad you wrote for her, but she already knows. She’s with you still.

  27. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:23 pm Deanna Says:

    My heart goes out to you and her boys. She would be proud of you. There’s a lot to be proud of.

  28. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:25 pm chickensconsigliere Says:

    I loved this. I’m sorry for your loss and happy for you that you had a friend like that. I’ll be thinking about that little boy for awhile and hoping he is ok. If you haven’t already read it, may I suggest this book by Caroline Knapp: Drinking, A Love Story. I happened to read it over the summer and loved it. She was a journalist, but that was just circumstance. Really, she was a blogger before there was internet. Alice K’s Guide to Life was another book of hers that I loved.

  29. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:26 pm Mrs Jenna Says:

    Becky – you, this post, Band Back Together – have meant more to me than ever lately. Thank you for sharing this, for sharing yourself with the world. You’re honestly an inspiration.

  30. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:30 pm mumma boo Says:

    Beautiful and so powerful, dear Becky. Much love to you, darling.

  31. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:30 pm Nicki Says:

    Amazingly, beautifully written, incredible tribute! Hugs to you!

  32. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:31 pm a Says:

    I’m sorry that it must be this way.

  33. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:33 pm seekingelevation Says:

    I am so sorry for your loss of someone who was obviously an incredible friend.

  34. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:34 pm Jenni Williams Says:

    oh becky, so beautiful. I can’t stop crying now. love you hard.

  35. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:35 pm lettergirl Says:

    Love you, pretty. This is beautiful.

  36. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:36 pm Melissa Says:

    Beautiful. She would be so proud, so very proud.

  37. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:38 pm Sam Says:

    Ahhhh Christ. Your writing, it must be. And the same universe that gave you that friendship, gave your love to her, and gives your love to her now. I believe love never dies. My husband lost one of his best friends to suicide and he was bipolar, an artist. He left my old friend, their daughter and two other children behind. It’s tragedy, plain and simple. And a hole so big but thank God you try to fill it with beauty. They deserve that.

  38. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:41 pm Anjali Says:

    Thank you for helping me get the chance to know her through your words.

    I’m so sorry for your pain.

  39. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:41 pm Mrs. Jen B Says:

    What a beautiful and moving tribute. You brought tears to my eyes. I’m sure this wasn’t easy for you but you did it very well. Hugs to you.

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  41. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:45 pm zak Says:

    You are a great friend.

    Love,
    ZW

  42. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:45 pm Erin@MommyontheSpot Says:

    This post makes me want to cry. I am so sorry for your loss. I know how hard it is to be a witness to that kind of train wreck.

    I think it’s awesome how you made a site devoted to getting rid of that stigma associated with mental illness and addiction. No one ever gets all mad at a diabetic who can’t process sugar, now do they?

  43. On January 4th, 2011 at 7:55 pm ipodlesley Says:

    Damn, you’ve got me crying again. Damn. I have lost so many, I will not lose one more child to addiction. Damn. Keep talking about it, writing about it, screaming about it. Damn. I’m crying again.

  44. On January 4th, 2011 at 8:08 pm Eric Grabowski Says:

    You are a great writer and have the ability to present to others the deep emotions that at one time or another we have all felt.

    Thank you so very much for sharing a part of your life that is so personal

    ~Eric

  45. On January 4th, 2011 at 8:18 pm Eric Grabowski Says:

    the blog thinks im a robot?

  46. On January 4th, 2011 at 8:23 pm Neeroc Says:

    I ache for you and those little boys and everyone who loved her. Sorry for your loss and pain.

  47. On January 4th, 2011 at 8:29 pm Mel Says:

    This was so touching. Just no words.

    Hugs.

  48. On January 4th, 2011 at 8:30 pm Ericka Says:

    Wow. So powerfully and beautifully written. I feel like I know your friend now.

  49. On January 4th, 2011 at 8:31 pm Leah Says:

    That was beautiful. I am so sorry for the loss of your friend and the loss of a mother for those sweet boys.

    Also, I feel for you for being the daughter of a bipolar alcoholic. My girls are too.

    Many, many hugs to you. You know I think you are amazing.

  50. On January 4th, 2011 at 9:10 pm Jen Says:

    That was so poignant. I almost started to cry. Thank you for sharing this.

  51. On January 4th, 2011 at 10:21 pm CycleNinja Says:

    Everyone needs a friend like her. Or like you.

    *hugs*

  52. On January 4th, 2011 at 10:24 pm mommabird2345 Says:

    This made me cry. Lovely.

  53. On January 4th, 2011 at 10:30 pm Kristin Says:

    You make me wish I had known her. {{{Hugs}}}

  54. On January 4th, 2011 at 10:34 pm Sandra Says:

    This is a terrific post…sad, but powerful, and terrific. Glad my makeup has already been washed off though or I’d be cursing you and your touching words.

  55. On January 5th, 2011 at 4:55 am McGilli Says:

    Dang it… where have you gone snarky becky??? now I have to cry all day.

  56. On January 5th, 2011 at 5:14 am Sara @ Life With the Two Says:

    My heart literally hurts after reading this, and normally this would be a bad thing, but it’s not. I just want to hug all of you who knew her. To fix it. I know the kind of friendship you speak of, and if/when I lose the one I have like that, I won’t have words anymore.

    Love you. Tons.

  57. On January 5th, 2011 at 7:25 am Tara Says:

    That was lovely. I’m so sorry that you lost such a true friend.

  58. On January 5th, 2011 at 7:56 am Robyn Says:

    Wow. I’ve been reading your blog for a VERY long time and am not sure if I’ve ever commented. I couldn’t leave this post alone. I had a friend, just like that. She was my soul mate. We were supposed to grow old together and be little old ladies rocking a porch somewhere, someday. She suffered from depression, was later diagnosed as bipolar, and took her own life, not even 2 years from the onset of her mental illness. It’s been 3 years and I miss her every day.

    What I wouldn’t give for one more hug…

    Thank you for knowing how I feel.

  59. On January 5th, 2011 at 8:30 am triplezmom Says:

    That was so beautifully written and so powerful. I am glad you found each other, even if it for wasn’t long enough.

    I should never, ever attempt to read you when wearing mascara.

  60. On January 5th, 2011 at 8:45 am lauren Says:

    I just found your site through Adventures in Mommyhood blog, who listed you as one of her faves.
    Gripping words.
    I’m a new fan.

  61. On January 5th, 2011 at 8:50 am choosy Says:

    I woke up this morning to the stark realization that the 10 year anniversary of my sister in-laws suicide is almost here. Because I was thinking of my wedding anniversary and what we should do, and she killed herself 3 months after my wedding.
    And I was sad. And angry.
    And weepy.
    And this? This post is a great cleanser.
    Tears are good. I don’t feel shame in my tears for a woman who should still be here. For a great soul that left the world too soon.
    So thank you for your post.
    Even though I know it was just coincidence – the timing could not have been better.

    I am sorry for the loss.

  62. On January 5th, 2011 at 8:56 am Karen Whiddon Says:

    Wow. Know that your words make a difference. Thanks for writing this. And hugs to you over the loss of your friend.

  63. On January 5th, 2011 at 9:10 am Sherri Says:

    Wow, what a loss. And what an awesome way with words you have.

    You did your friend justice with this post.

  64. On January 5th, 2011 at 9:11 am alyson: common sense, dancing Says:

    At the risk of repeating all who have commented ahead of me, wow. This is a lovely, beautiful, lyrical post.

    I can see your friend clearly.

    I was holding my breath as I read it, and was sad to finish it. Sad for you who has lost a great friend, sad for her children, her other friends, and this world that has lost that sparkling presence.

    Thanks for writing this.

  65. On January 5th, 2011 at 9:12 am By Word of Mouth Says:

    Perhaps if there was less stigma, more people would seek help. As Mom’s, we feel everything we do is judged in some way – to admit to a problem is admitting failure … and yet, in thinking that way, do we not set ourselves up for failure right from the start.
    Love when you write like this, that soft vulnerable side of you that you try to keep hidden behind that other ‘f*ck you’ persona you want us to believe you are …

  66. On January 5th, 2011 at 9:18 am Apryl's Antics Says:

    Wow. This makes me sad I never knew her.

  67. On January 5th, 2011 at 9:40 am leanne Says:

    I keep coming back to this post, wanting to have the right words to say. You, on the other hand, have found beautiful words.

    My love to you…

  68. On January 5th, 2011 at 9:57 am Skytimes Says:

    Thanks for sharing Stef with us… makes me feel honored to “know” her.

    My personal ItMustBe friend had to watch me go down, being lost in a violent, dark and drugged world that was my marriage. And there was nothing she could do about it. I had to crawl out there myself… (Es muss sein). So having been to the other side, I can’t even imagine your pain…

    I’m sorry she can’t be with you. But I bet my butt that – just hopefully somehow – she knows all that.

    Thanks for writing this down.
    Really, totally, utterly: Thanks.

  69. On January 5th, 2011 at 10:09 am Nicole Says:

    I am so sorry for your loss and I can relate. My heart hurts for you and for all who lost a great friend, mother, presence the day that your friend died.

    I had a Stef once but her name was Julie. She taught me how to love myself just the way I was, mostly because she loved herself the way she was. Or so it seemed to my naive 19 year old self. She was a bartender at the restaurant where I worked. She took me under her wing and made me feel happy to be alive for the first time in a while. But in reality, she wasn’t happy with herself, she just pretended so. She had suffered a life of abuse and addiction and at 27 she couldn’t keep it together anymore. Her son was too young to realize what was happend at her funeral, but I saw. I saw that her funeral was so packed that there were people standing in the parking lot looking in through the side doors at the service. Because that is the kind of person Julie was, everyone’s best friend. And I always wish that I could have had one last conversation with her because in the months leading up to her deal I had distanced myself from her. I barely spoke to her that Tuesday when she called me in the middle of American Idol. I was dreading the plans we made for that Sunday. That Saturday night I was semi-relieved when she didn’t respond to my text confirming our plans for the next day. I was annoyed when I still didn’t her from her the next morning, pissed that she flaked out on me and so I didn’t even make it to the bar where she worked, where we were supposed to talk and play pool. But by Sunday night I was heartbroken. For a moment I hated myself, hated my betrayal. Hated that she died alone, caught in a fire that she started when she fell asleep with a lit cigarette once the drugs wore off and no one ever showed up to hang out. Hated that I hadn’t tried harder to help her, hated that she scared me and so I retreated.

    But I don’t really think about what I would say to her now, given the chance. Because I know what she would have said to me. I think she did, even, once in a dream. That it was okay, that it was sad but that I would be fine and that she loved me.

    It’s been a long 6 years since tht has happened and while I think of it less and less, the hurt hasn’t really gone away. Sorry for my novel of a comment, but I just had to tell you about my Stef. I didn’t intend to write that much, but I didn’t really want to stop or edit it either. Hope you understand.

  70. On January 5th, 2011 at 10:16 am Lori @ In Pursuit of Martha Points Says:

    Sad.

    Just….sad.

  71. On January 5th, 2011 at 10:53 am Donna Says:

    Beautiful writing. Thank you.

  72. On January 5th, 2011 at 10:59 am AngieM. Says:

    ohh, becky.
    i have tears..that was so beautifully written. she is proud, she is most definitely proud. thank you for sharing her with us.

    hugs
    xoxo

  73. On January 5th, 2011 at 11:01 am Kathy Says:

    She was lucky to have you as a friend. And I know she is watching you. Loving you.

  74. On January 5th, 2011 at 11:27 am alisha Says:

    that is so beautiful. peace now, for all i hope. & thank you for shining light in the dark places. nothing is ever as scary when shared.

  75. On January 5th, 2011 at 11:27 am alisha Says:

    that is so beautiful. peace now, for all i hope. & thank you for shining light in the dark places. nothing is ever as scary when shared.

  76. On January 5th, 2011 at 1:20 pm Tonya Says:

    What a beautiful, touching and heartfelt tribute. I can tell how difficult it was for you to write, but I hope you feel a little better having done so. Your friend knew how much you loved her.

    Band Back Together is an amazing site and you should be very proud of giving people a place to share their BS, their voice.

    Wishing you Peace.

  77. On January 5th, 2011 at 3:57 pm sue j. Says:

    A very powerful tribute to your friend.
    Comfort and peace.

  78. On January 5th, 2011 at 4:08 pm Morgan {The818} Says:

    Oh, Becky. Stef’s memory lives on and serves her well thanks to you. I’m so sorry she lost the battle.

  79. On January 5th, 2011 at 6:55 pm Lady-like Pervert Says:

    I wasn’t expecting that. Made me cry Becky! Beautiful and heart wrenching.

  80. On January 5th, 2011 at 9:43 pm Little Momma Says:

    beautiful. just beautiful…

  81. On January 6th, 2011 at 8:31 am Joan Rowlands Says:

    whenever you write about Stef, i can ‘see and hear’ her, even tho i never met her. she lives on with you, in your heart, in your words. love and hugs xoxo

  82. On January 6th, 2011 at 4:35 pm Stacey Says:

    Wow. That was really beautiful. Thank you for sharing a piece of your friend.

  83. On January 9th, 2011 at 10:28 am Denise Says:

    I totally understand how you feel. My friend gave in to his alcoholism one year ago on January 9th. I can’t even express how much I miss him. He had no clue how much he meant to so many people. I wish I could say something to you to make it better, but there is nothing that can make it better. I suppose it gets milder with time, but it never goes away. I am thinking of you.

  84. On January 10th, 2011 at 8:36 pm Roccie Says:

    Once in a lifetime. Such clear words.

    Larger than life at 16. In my mind, she is older now and laughs when she read this one.

  85. On March 1st, 2011 at 10:18 pm Frelle Says:

    heartwrenching, thank you for pouring yourself out here and sharing your friend with us.

  86. On March 1st, 2011 at 10:26 pm Lizzard72 Says:

    I had a bad couple of days with some friends. I realized they aren’t forever friends, and I will get shoved under a bus. This makes me remember the few, loyal, loving friends I’d take a bullet for.

    She’s proud of you for sure, you do her memory proud. Hugs

    Liz

  87. On March 1st, 2011 at 10:26 pm Lizzard72 Says:

    I had a bad couple of days with some friends. I realized they aren’t forever friends, and I will get shoved under a bus. This makes me remember the few, loyal, loving friends I’d take a bullet for.

    She’s proud of you for sure, you do her memory proud. Hugs

    Liz

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