It wasn't something she was used to. Mourning and anguish. There were those few days when Kevin was hurt and the doctors didn't know what was going on…but he did get better. The people in her life had always gotten better. Why didn't Judith? Why did she have to die? Sixteen years was not a lifetime and Judith barely lived those years as it was. She was always too busy stirring up trouble, pushing boundaries, and testing the people in her life.
Joan learned that trick early on at crazy camp. Everything would be fine for a few weeks. They would be the inseparable team, the crazy champions at basket-weaving with sardonic play-by-play, and then Judith’s eyes would narrow and she’d spend time with Jerry, the pyromaniac whose only option had been crazy camp or six months in juvenile hall. Judith would start fights and purposefully egg Joan on, announcing her problems to everyone during group rather than talking about herself.
It would always end the same way. Joan would try to talk to her, want to know what the hell was going on, and out would come the apologies.
Until the next round.
Joan sat in the car, watching random kids from the school file back into their cars and swallowed back the bitter laugh forming there. None of these kids cared about Judith. None of them knew her. To them, it was a chance to get out of class. To them, Judith’s death was just another lesson on the dangers of drug use. They were the lucky ones who hadn’t gotten tangled up in all the crap that surrounded Judith - but always seemed worth it when the two would giggle together. Her classmates were lucky because they didn’t have to relive that moment when Judith’s eyes closed for the last time or hear the dull sound of a flat-line on a monitor in their sleep.
“Jane, are you okay?”
Joan knew Adam was trying to be supportive, to be there for her, but sometimes she wondered about people. Why would you ask such obvious questions? No, she wasn’t alright. One of her best friends was murdered and she, the girl who talked to God, couldn’t do anything to change it.
“I’m fine,” she lied. It was what he wanted – if he had wanted the truth, he would’ve started the conversation with “It sucks she’s dead” or something.
Adam nodded. He brushed a piece of her hair back and settled into his seat next to her, keeping his eyes focused in front of him. Joan knew she was probably being a terrible girlfriend on top of being a lousy friend to Judith.
Because Joan really believed she had gotten through to Judith. She thought that days of overdoses and insanity were behind them and that the biggest problems they faced would involve wanting the same dress for prom. It was all a big lie. Judith had helped Adam set up the perfect date for her. She had gotten to have a wonderful, romantic evening with her boyfriend while her best friend was being stabbed.
She was a failure and the anguish over that was much worse than losing Judith in and of itself. The thoughts that maybe if she had paid more attention, that maybe if she had been better in her works with God, that Judith would still be there…it plagued her.
Joan wasn’t sure she’d ever get over that.