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My work day had been slow and exceptionally quiet due to the mostly empty office. Gold, late-afternoon light poured in through the windows and onto my desk where the hum of D.C.’s busy streets beckoned six floors below. I had about an hour left until it was time to log out and pulled out my phone just to pass the boredom for a few minutes. I was on Facebook when I saw a post from my friend’s mom that paralyzed me mid-scroll.

It said something about my friend and funeral arrangements and, to be honest, at first glance, I think I scrolled past it because losing her was never a possibility for me. My brain rejected any suggestion of it. But as I kept re-reading it, I heard my voice quake when I said “this isn’t happening” out loud, grateful my co-workers weren’t around as the denial came almost immediately.

“This isn’t happening,” I repeated to myself compulsively as I grabbed my things, sent a “leaving early” email and rushed out the building.

When I made it downstairs, I called my friend’s mom on WhatsApp and found out that what was happening had been happening for a few weeks. She told me that my friend had been in the hospital, passed away and her mom had been trying to reach me.

My friend (we’ll call her Cherie, French for “beloved”), had a chronic illness that I won’t elaborate on because it’s not what defined her. This young woman was (“was” still being surreal to type) unbelievably resilient, smart and warm. She was effortlessly witty and I envied that about her. She could help you with your algebra homework, braid your hair and crochet. In college, she fed me multiple times with hearty dorm kitchen meals of jerk chicken, and also with conversation. She fed me with friendship, and when she died, I was devastated.