“Ana.” I wait for her fun-loving smile to appear. It doesn't. “Ana…” I try again, softer. Still nothing. Cautiously, I venture, “Hey… what's going on? ... Ana…?” She shifts. I can see that she's clearly not okay. My heart, just in these last ten seconds, has taken on the same weight as hers is bearing. I don't even know what it is. I know she won't talk, but she's not going to do this alone. “Come here,” I whisper gently. Ah, that works. She lets me hold her tight; long and tight. She clings to me. We'll be here awhile. I love her. I'd hold her for as long as she needed it. “Eye-luvoo so mush.” My voice is muffled in her shoulder, but she knows exactly what I'm saying. “Eye-luvoo too,” she manages. I squeeze tighter. After a good, long time, we let go. I take both of her hands and look into my best friend's eyes with so much love. More than I've ever loved anyone in my life... I cast my eyes back down, giving her respect. Still so there, yet honoring her inclination to process in privacy. Privacy coated in the comforting, present support of your best friend. The security of them utterly not knowing, yet profoundly knowing nonetheless, and feeling it right beside you. Never alone. We sit together, quietly bearing the weight of the world hand in hand. Inside ourselves, processing, yet hearts beating inside each other's. Stronger this way. Ana and I. The most roaring wordless message a friend can ever give: I'm here. A flash of eye contact checks in every now and then. Tender empathy. Sisterhood, unbreakable and ever-present. Before long, I pull her back in for another hug. We just go back and forth, hugs and hands, until the funk passes and love settles in its place. I pray silently, and occasionally my plea to God becomes audible. I never know what I'm addressing, but I just give her all the love I know how to give, and I feel the weight of her heart beside her. She is not alone. I will make sure of this. I'm still hugging her, all the while aware that I will never know exactly what's going on, what she's thinking, what set off these emotions, or even quite what they are. We'll never talk about this, and we don't have to. She is hugging back so hard that I know this is all she needs right now. Just love. I don't know all that Ana goes through. But I do know how to hold her tight and love her with all my heart. At the end of the day, that's all she needed from me — to be loved. Accepted. Held. Cherished. Safe. So I make my embrace a safe place for her. A place where she knows she can let it all out. She deserves it. She's my best friend. “I love you so much, girly,” I say, my words clear this time as I pull away and take a good look at her as only a best friend can. I beam. Her sunshine has come back. “I love you too,” Ana replies.
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