Her name was Higa Nina. She was only 38 when cancer took her life. She was and is still my best friend. Death couldn't take it away.
We "met" circa 1999 (or was it 1998?) via the internet. That time, I was still a university student and she a newlywed. We exchanged some stories, letters, packages. We didn't now then, that we would become best friends.
Friendship is a gradual process. First, the introduction. You start to see if you really "click". Sometimes you do, sometimes the click would appear later, and many times, it won't come at all. And then, you begin the process I call "weeding". You start to mentally place people into two category: acquaintances or possible friends. Acquaintances are the ones that you aren't that keen in interacting more. Perhaps because you can't really "talk" with them. People who talk about "me, me, me, it's all about me" all the time, in my world, belong to this category. Possible friends are the ones that you find entertaining and fun. The kind of people that you don't mind hanging out with more often. I do this simple test to put people into one of the categories: if they contact me and I squirm or groan, then they're still in acquaintances zone. If my face lights up and I smile whenever they try to contact me, they're probably the ones that I consider friends.
Nina, or Nyachan, as I call her, was one of the rare people that click with me right away. We excitedly exchanged emails about our daily lives, activities, and we did learn something new everyday. Nyachan got interested in Bahasa Indonesia, and she could speak it really well. I found out more about Japanese culture and habits.
Then in 2000, she went to Indonesia. Not for the first time. I think Nyachan went to Bali during her university years once, and she went to Bali again with her husband several years later. But she had never been to Bandung then. We went to Tangkuban Prahu. Then we went to Jakarta, to Dufan. One thing that I remembered well, she exclaimed, "Whoa! There are so many babies and children in Indonesia!" In Japan, sadly, population of youngsters is dwindling down.
Life is filled with events, sometimes they are so huge, sometimes they might seem trivial to others. We gave supports to each other during our difficult times. When she got a miscarriage, I cried with her. When my ex cheated on me, she shared my pain.
She told me that if my ex cheated on me, it didn't mean that I wasn't good enough for him. It meant that he wasn't good enough for me.
I always remember this. It kept me strong. She cried again with me, this time in joy, when I found the one, when I married a man worthy of my respect and love. That time, she couldn't attend my wedding because she was pregnant.
We became mothers, busy ones. We still wrote to each other now and then, but not daily like before. We met several times, in Bandung, Osaka, Tokyo, then Bali.
Then in 2012, she was diagnosed with cancer. She was a fighter. She underwent chemotherapy even though she told me, the pain was excruciating, because she wanted to live longer, for her sons. She got better for a while after surgery, but the cancer returned.
She was finally free from her pains. She is in a better place now.
One day, we will meet again.