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My (former) best friend’s wedding

The Star Online logo The Star Online 10/7/2018

I CAN'T remember the last time I spoke to Jessica. It was probably two years ago when I saw her briefly at a friend's open house but even then, there wasn't much catching-up between us.

We smiled and waved from across the room, exchanged pleasantries as she introduced me to her special friend and, despite our best intentions, we had to rush our goodbyes – with the promise to catch-up next time, of course.

But catch-up we never did.

Fast-forward to March of this year, I received a Whatsapp message from an unsaved number – it was of hers. She introduced herself rather formally and after rounds of beating around the subject, she finally steered the conversation to the main topic: her wedding.

She invited me to the reception in June and while I am genuinely happy for her, I was pleasantly surprised that she reached out to me despite knowing my bad track record at maintaining friendship.

The beginning

Jessica and I used to be classmates in secondary school. Although the two of us were on different ends of the personality spectrum, we ended up as friends and hung out with the same group of people most of the time.

Back then, she exuded a sense of self-confidence and conviction of someone well beyond her years - a quality that many of my peers lacked, myself included.

Together, we’ve been through every teenage life experiences imaginable – from the rush of puppy love to the awkward phase of teenage angst and rebellion. We talked about the future and dreams we wanted to achieve as if it were for certain. She even went out on a date with my brother once – a point I would bring up without fail just to tease her.

a woman sitting at a table © Provided by The Star Online  
While social media makes it easier to connect with old friends, it lacks the depth of a meaningful interaction.

I wish I could tell you a dramatic story of how and why we lost touch, but the truth is, we simply grew up. There was no fallout, no messy fight or anything. After SPM, everyone in the group went their separate ways and our friendship was merely put on hold temporarily.

Or so we thought.

Like everyone else, I keep tabs on my friends' lives through social media. I knew about her engagement while scrolling through Facebook one night and immediately congratulated her.

While I did anticipate a wedding, I did not expect to be invited to attend at all. I felt as though time and distance has stripped away my best friend title and that I might not even make it in the guest list.

Even then, I had doubts about travelling back home just for the ceremony. After all, it’s just a wedding, right?

But after a quick sit down, I knew that the journey back is worth the small sacrifice for our 12 years of friendship and that it’ll be selfish of me not to attend. So, I called up the others to see if they’re coming too.

The wedding day

As I was shopping for a wedding gift for the couple, I realised that I barely know the Jessica now or the guy that she's marrying. Will they like this gift or will they appreciate that one instead? I pondered each decision as I tried to piece an image of the two together based solely on their Instagram posts.I resorted to the generic ‘ang pow’ ultimately.

At the wedding, I was hit by a pang of nostalgia when almost everyone from the group showed up. We reminisced about our school days and what everyone was up to ever since. It felt as though we were secondary school kids again – except now some of us have children to call our own.

We later found out that one of our former classmates underwent several medical treatments late last year for what seemed to be early warning signs of cancer. The news came as a shock to everyone but thankfully she defeated the odds and handled the whole ordeal rather well.

It occurred to me then that I should have done better as a friend. I know I should have reached out more to them personally and not rely mainly on social media – because not everyone is sharing their battles online.

I only saw Jessica again the moment she walked down the aisle to meet her soon-to-be husband. It was the first time in two years that I've seen her in person. Seeing your friend in a wedding dress is a surreal feeling because, in my head, I still see her as the straight-A's student I sat next to in class. And yet I couldn't help but be proud of her. She's starting a whole new chapter in her life.

After we dined and danced the night away, we came to an unspoken agreement that we can just reach out to one another whenever we want because deep down, we still care.

While I believe that everyone has a different pursuit in life, I don't want it to be at the expense of our friendship either. Life is about change and we’re simply evolving it to another level.

I hope we won’t have to wait for another wedding for everyone to gather again but I’m glad that Jessica made the effort to reunite the group for her big day. Had I not attend the wedding, I don’t think I would realise just how much I’ve missed out on in my friend’s lives. It served as a reminder that it’s still not too late to make up for lost time and to recognise the need to act now.

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This article is brought to you by Xiao En as part of their ongoing #ActNow campaign that encourages people to show their affection to their loved ones before it's too late. Join local celebrities and inspiring personalities as they share messages of love through a series of videos. To watch the rest of them, visit here.

a man wearing a suit and tie © Provided by The Star Online

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