I called her Sweet and Low. I gave her a piggy bank that I painted at one of those paint-your-own-pottery shops when I visited my mom over Christmas break. It said "California Vacation Fund". A couple of years ago she sent me a text message with a photo of it. She had kept it all this time. At her family's house we crawled into her attic with pillows and blankets, turned on a strand of string lights, and listened to John Lennon and Meatloaf. We walked to A&M Pizza after school and bought a large extra cheese that we took to the park and shared while taking turns on the tire swing and telling secrets. She cried with me when I did things with boys that I didn't want to do, when I thought I was pregnant the first time, when I found out I really was the second time. When we were done crying, she smiled and told me I would be a great mom.
After that I moved back to California to be with my mother. My grandparents couldn't handle the stress and the shame of raising a teen mom. Our lives began to move in different directions, but we always tried to keep in touch, and I always loved her. I don't even have many photographs of her. Just a couple of grainy snapshots I took at school one day with a disposable camera. We reunited at a birthday party a few years ago, and had been talking about trying to get together again this year. We would have talked for hours. Autumn would have played with her baby. We would have laughed and cried. Life got in the way.
Amy was good. So good. She did everything right. She wasn't a screwup like me. She worked hard. She fell in love with a great guy. She got married in a dream wedding on the beach. She had a baby girl, Ava. I remember she was just over the moon about becoming a mom. Motherhood was her magnum opus. It was her greatest joy.
People our age aren't supposed to die. Not ever, and especially not people as good as Amy. She was twenty four. Twenty four. She wasn't done yet. And her baby, too? It isn't fair. It. Isn't. Fair. At times like this I wish I still believed in something. I wish I could believe that she isn't just gone. That she is somewhere clean and bright and warm. That she is smiling that big smile at all of us now. I wish I could be comforted by those thoughts. As it is, I can only take comfort in the fact that, for a little while, I was lucky enough to call her my friend.