My Best Friend Is Gone, and Nothing Feels Right

If grief is the price of love, I am unable to pay.

By Jared Misner

On the day I knew Alison would die, I called my two dogs into bed with me and wrapped all three of us in a quilt that’s hand stitched with my wedding vows.

This being such a custom item, it’s curious that three of them exist.

For my wedding two years ago, Alison had commissioned the hand stitching of this quilt — 1,420 words across 42 square feet. But the quilter kept messing it up with errant commas and misspelled words, so Alison made her start over, twice. She wasn’t about to be responsible for giving a less-than-perfect gift to me and my future husband, Nate. Still, the quilter had us keep the first two because there was no sense in returning them.

Before the doctors unplugged Alison in late April — one more body claimed by the coronavirus, lost amid the zeros and statistics to become a footnote in our sordid history — that’s who she was at her core: dedicated to perfection and superior gift-giving.

More than that, she was my best friend for 12 years, and even though I’m now married to a wonderful man, I’m not sure I’ll ever love someone like I loved Alison.

I suppose it’s fitting that this gift — the most perfect my husband and I received at our wedding, the gift we use more than any other, the gift I now find myself clinging to in Alison’s absence — came from the woman who was my first, and I suppose only, Facebook-official wife.

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Smitten with ourselves at the satirical shade we threw at others who lived for the drama and gossip of online relationship statuses at a time when Facebook had walls instead of feeds and when people still wrote on their friends’ walls, we made the digital declaration to one another and began our first marriage.

It was the most successful fictitious marriage I’ve had in my life, full of artisanal jams from roadside stands and dreams of one day living in a cabin in Vermont with a dozen dogs and a shed devoted to Halloween decorations.

Given that I’ve only been married to my husband for two years, I suppose you could say that my relationship with Alison was the most successful, long-lasting marriage I have had, period.

But now, at 29, she is dead, the ventilator no longer breathing for her, moved on to the next victim of Covid-19.

To die from this plague is a tragedy. To witness a loved one do so is a merciless, unrelenting kind of sadness — prolonged and filled with false hope. It is a faraway, forced mourning, her body a vector of contagion. It is a unique grief overridden by a forced education in a vocabulary I never wanted to learn: hydroxychloroquine, extubation, Remdesivir.

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