The Next Time I go to a Shiva, I’m Going to Make Sure the Person is Actually Dead. 

So many of my blogs have been dedicated to specific people because of the light and positivity they bring to my life but in the real world not all relationships sustain the true test of time. In my adult years there are four friendships I have made and lost that one might equate to a breakup. I’ve only ever had one romantic breakup in my life but I’m certain that the cause of breakup determines the emotions that follow. The same could be said for lost friendships. Each of these four friendships ended for their own reason and each render very different emotions when I think about them. Some of them I can admit, I am not over. And some…you might not even believe. The first painful friend lost was the fifth member of what used to be the Fab Five, my closest circle of friends from college. On December 31st 2012 we had a terrible falling out. I know the exact date because it was New Year’s Eve. I’m not going to tell the details of that story mostly because my side of the story doesn’t paint her in a nice light and though we are not friends anymore, I do not wish ill will to her nor do I want to speak poorly of her. Our friendship was strong, like a sisterhood and the true fact of that matter is we just went down different paths at different times. She got married and had a beautiful house in the burbs long before I was ready for that lifestyle. Our priorities shifted and neither of us handled it well, likely the reason we never resolved the blowout. I think about her often and the innumerable amount of memories she and I created. Particularly the time we got a ride in a garbage truck at 4:30 am dressed to impress, she in a skin tight Dolce and Gabana leopard print dress. Though the friendship is long gone, I hold on to the positive memories we made and could have written numerous blogs about some of them. 
The second friendship made and lost actually pisses me off. She’s a dramatic, sensitive, grudge holding brat. She was always that way when we were close I just never expected to be one of her victims. For years she’d complain to me about people who wronged her though I never really could understand what was so bad about what they had done. Then it happened to me. I said something meant as a joke. Everyone else in the group chat knew I was kidding, one friend even responding with “Lol I’m with Jess”. When I reached out to her after she didn’t attend my birthday she was very short with me but didn’t tell me she was upset. It had been months after the harmless comment and I had NO CLUE I had offended her. I apologized and explained I meant no harm because I care about my friends deeply but she decided it was a friendship ender. She was always a Negative Nancy, Debbie Downer kinda person. When you’d try to help her find the light in a situation she’d impressively find the dark in your light. She’s one of those people who is just happy in her own misery. Rumor has it she’s got two kids now. Good for her. She may be bad at adult relationships but one thing I will say is that she is incredible with kids and she is undoubtedly an excellent mother. 
Next up is the Aussie. That one ended as fast as it started and I honestly don’t know why. We became close quick. I introduced her to my friends. They became friends. Good friends. She flew across the country for my wedding. On my big day, she gave my mom a 20 minute shoulder massage to help relax. Thats the kind of friend she was. And then one day she just wasn’t. She stopped returning our texts and when she would finally respond it would be prefaced with “Sorry mate, I’m just so busy.” Oh fuck off. We’re ALL busy. It’s called life. Eventually I got sick of the one sided attempts to sustain a friendship. I threw some sass at her via text and the thumbs up emoji I received in returned sealed the deal. G’day to ya. Mate. 
The last friend I lost is a story that seems like fiction. Made for TV plot line ridiculousness. It started with spin, as so many of my stories do. She was our front row rider and she came to practically every class. That’s not an exaggeration. Every class. She was on a mission to lose weight and in the time we knew her, she lost over 100 pounds. The other instructors and I were all so proud of her and told her everyday. She became a part of our fit fam and a part of my everyday life. The only day I didn’t see her was on Sundays but we would still text. Over the course of our friendship we’d talk about our lives and I learned a lot about her. The facts she shared are crucial to my story so pay attention. 

She told me she grew up in Kentucky but she came to New York because her parents had moved to Brooklyn and when her father passed, she came to take care of her mother. She had a girlfriend turned fiancé in the time that we knew her and she even asked Lauren and I to be witnesses when they went to the courthouse to marry. She told us about her job as a pharmacist at a pet pharmacy. She’d talk regularly about how she supported her fiancé and wished that she would get a job. She complained about her coworkers and talked often about her responsibilities as manager. 

It wasn’t until we asked to meet her fiancé Jessa that things got weird. She made a lot of excuses and we were starting to think this girl didn’t actually exist. I even said to her half joking,”I don’t believe she’s real!” To this she responded, “Just text her and see when she’s free.” She sent me her phone number and we picked a date and time for a group of us to go out to dinner. The fiancé’ texted me so she was obviously real. 

The week of the scheduled dinner she texted us each to tell us that her mom had gone into the hospital and she would have to postpone dinner. All week, she’d come to classes with tears in her eyes and informed us that her mom was not doing well due to a bad infection and the likelihood that she would pass was high. She’d push through workouts but she was clearly emotionally hurting, as anyone would if their mom was on her deathbed. A group of us were scheduled to drive to Vermont for the weekend but on that Friday she informed us each separately that her mom had passed. My heart ached for her. It was so sudden. We decided to skip the Vermont trip and stay here to attend the services and support our friend. On Saturday, she sent us the funeral information in case we wanted to go but told us that she wouldn’t be attending, she “doesn’t do funerals”. Confused by this and starting to feel somewhat suspect we called the funeral home to ask about parking. They had no funeral under her mothers name. What about under her maiden name? Nope. Were we crazy to think she lied about her mothers death? Who would do that!? Surely we were overthinking. We asked her about it and she said we should just come to the shiva that was to be held after the funeral at her aunts house. 

The next morning, dressed in our most respectful funeral apparel, Lauren and I met at the jeep in the single digit temperatures to drive to the depths of Brooklyn to pay our respects to our friends mother. She told us to meet at her apartment first and we would walk over to aunts apartment for the shiva just across the street. When we arrived, she told us Jessa was at the funeral and we were just waiting food to be delivered. We sat awkwardly in her kitchen and gave our condolences as tears sat in her eyes. Lauren and I took turns using the bathroom, each of us noticing sounds coming from one of the bedrooms. I asked about it and she said it was the tv for the dogs but Lauren distinctly heard a womans voice. We let it slide. Once the bagel spread had arrived, we walked across the street to her aunts apartment where no signs of a shiva could be found. No chairs for guests, no food besides the bagels and her aunt was in jeans and putting on her coat to clearly go run her Sunday errands. Lauren and I side-eyed each other basically asking what the heck is happening!? 

Now we sat in her aunts kitchen, just the three of us. She said nothing so Lauren and I awkwardly tried to keep the conversation going. I decided to text Jessa, since I had her number just to see what the status of the funeral was. She didn’t respond. After about a half an hour of waiting, her uncle came home, excited to meet us and excited to show us his model trains but again no signs of grievances. Just before the grand tour of the trains, he took a phone call. Half eaves dropping I heard him say “Tell Toby….” I zoned out after I heard him say “tell Toby” because Toby was the name of the dead woman we were supposed to be showing our respects to in that very moment. I also stopped listening because in that exact moment, our friend blurted out something, and I realize now it was so that we wouldn’t hear what her uncle had just said. I looked at Lauren but she hadn’t heard it. At that moment I knew we had to get out of there. “I’m so sorry honey but I have to get back to the upper east side, I have plans with Tom” Lies. Tom was working but I just had to get out of there. We gave our hugs and condolences once more. She walked us to the jeep and we held our breath and as soon as she was out of sight we both literally screamed! WTF just happened!? 

Still in denial that someone would lie about their mother dying, we decided to call the phone number that showed up on yellowpages.com for Toby. I put the phone call on speaker and cruised up the Brooklyn expressway. “Hello?” An old woman answered. My heart pounded, “Hi, I’m looking for Toby.” She responded, “Yes this is Toby.” I needed clarification, “Toby *insert last name here*?” Again she answered “yes”. Our eyes widened as we tried to keep our shit together but I needed one last clarification, “Toby *last name*, *friend who I don’t want to name’s* mother?” Again, “Yes I am her mother, who is this?” I can’t remember for sure but I think I panicked and hung up. We exploded!! WHAT JUST HAPPENED!? Did we seriously just attend the shiva of a woman who was ALIVE!? Did our friend LIE about her MOTHER DYING!? YES YES and YES! 

For the sake of keeping this blog from being longer than it already is, I will tell you that we got even more clarification when we messaged her brother in law on facebook. He told us his mother in law was alive and well and he had no idea what we were talking about. When we confronted her, she became very defensive. She said we were insane for accusing her but when we told her what her brother in law had said, she hung up the phone on us. An hour later she sent us a death certificate. A forged death certificate. We know it was forged because the date of death and date of witness signatures didn’t match…by about 7 years. 

Days later I reached out to her. I think to make sure in the grand scheme of things that she was ok but also because I was sad that someone who had become so integral in my day to day life was just gone. I needed answers. She confessed that she grew up in Brooklyn, not Kentucky. BOTH her parents were actually alive. She did not have a girlfriend, much less a fiancé. She had completely made this person up and went so far as to get a second phone number to text us as the fiancé. But what about all the very specific details she had given us over the last year? What about the picture of the engagement ring? She was not a pet pharmacist. She was the receptionist at a pet pharmacy. 

EVERYTHING she ever told me was a lie. EVERYTHING. I tried to forgive, I tried to give her a second chance. I felt sad for her that she clearly felt she wasn’t good enough as she was. And I felt sad because the best qualities about her were the only things she wasn’t able to lie about. Her will to workout and her effect she had on all of us to stay motivated could not be faked. I later found out that she had been fired from her job but had been telling me she was going. It was the final straw for me. I cut her off, as did everyone else in our circle. 

I still feel sad to think about it but she needs help that I can not provide. Every once in a while, if I’m with the group of friends that knew her and I have had a few too many drinks, I always talk one of them into calling her. I just to see that she is ok. I don’t know if she is ok but I know she is alive. 

As I type this, exactly a year later, I realize I’m still in shock of the lengths she took to keep her life a lie. I went to a FAKE SHIVA! I’ve lost friends due to a variety of reasons but never ever could I have predicted it would be because someone would lie about their mother dying! Or their father dying. Or being engaged to a person that doesn’t exist. I have to shake my head still as I think about it. A FAKE SHIVA! 

Well I send my condolences. Not for your living breathing mother who’s shiva I attended but for the friendships you lost because of it. My deepest sympathies. 

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