As a journalist, I have rarely ever been at a loss for words. However, this year I have been agonizing about how to put a simple article together. Why, you may ask? Four weeks ago, I lost my best friend, and closest confidant, to cancer. At the request of the family, her name shall remain anonymous, so let's call her Nicole.
Nicole and I met in third grade when she transferred to my elementary school. She was a beautiful, petite girl with flowing blonde hair and the most striking blue eyes that I had ever seen, and she was a little shy. I was not, so I went right up to her and introduced myself. Nicole and I became friends instantly, and we remained that way until Nov. 2, 2010, when she succumbed to the devastating effects of cancer.
I saw Nicole the day before she passed -- one month ago today. Those beautiful blue eyes were sealed shut, her skin yellowed, and she was in a partially comatose state. Her family said that she could hear me. I spent two hours holding Nicole, telling her how much I loved her and expressing that I didn't know how I was going to live my life without her. At certain moments, Nicole almost opened her eyes; she wanted to but just didn't have the strength. But I knew that my words got through to her. This gave me immense comfort, just knowing that Nicole knew that her best friend was there supporting her transition into the next world.
For two weeks, I could not get out of bed after the wakes and funeral were over. I stayed locked inside my apartment as the Thanksgiving decorations were being assembled all over New York City. Gorgeous, sunny, 60-degree days passed me by. All I could think about was Nicole, how unfair it was that she wasn't going to be sitting with her family by the Thanksgiving table eating turkey, reminiscing about old times and creating new memories.
I kept picking up the phone to call her. It was a habit that I had become used to since I moved back to New York in 1996. Fourteen years of speaking almost every day about anything and everything we were thinking and feeling: men, politics, reality shows, movies, celebrities and our own special memories of high school. That was the best time of both of our lives, and we tried to imagine that there were going to be more good times to look forward to. We had travelled together to California, and we had planned on going to Italy and France someday. But that day never came...
Thanksgiving came and went for the first time without Nicole -- and all I felt was empty, like someone came and took a piece out of my heart and left a big, gaping hole in it. Nicole may not have been my blood relative, but she was like a sister to me, and I loved her as if she were my family.
To deal with my grief, I am taking a trip to L.A. to "get away from it all." It was one of Nicole's favorite places. I don't know if that is constructive or destructive, but it is what feels right to me. Right now, I cannot sit with the feelings and memories in New York that are now making me feel suffocated and depressed. I am going to try and lift myself out of the abyss and do what Nicole would want me to do: have a great time seeing my old friends and business colleagues from my early days as a reporter.
If you have loved and lost someone over the holidays, please reach out to friends, family, clergy and anyone who can give you comfort and solace during this difficult time. This time of the year can be hard for people who are not suffering, but absolutely overwhelming for those who are. In my next article, I will offer resources and services that provide grief counseling during the holiday season, so hang on and know that you are not alone.
Feel free to write me here at The Huffington Post if you would like to express your own story of loss and how you cope with the pressures of "the most wonderful time of the year."