accepted the news of Ahuva’s engagement like a quiet tragedy.

I didn’t go to her vort. I couldn’t. Ahuva’s mother knew about my existence by then, and I knew exactly how she felt toward me. “I’m going to think about you the whole time,” Ahuva promised me. “I’m going to imagine you’re here, really feel your presence. And you should do the same.”

I tried. It was painfully hard.

The next few days, I lived in a daze. Ahuva was engaged, I should have been celebrating, but instead I was silently mourning. “Snap out of it, Devoiry,” Ahuva begged me. “I know there are girls who drop their friends when they get married. It’s not going to happen with us. Think about it. You’re going to become a ‘legal’ friend. I won’t have to hide you anymore. We can talk at normal hours, we can meet without having to make up a story.”

She had a point. Without the fear of her mother sabotaging our friendship, things could technically turn out great. But on the other hand, would the thrill of our relationship evaporate when the ban was lifted?

The date of her wedding loomed like a prison sentence. For better or for worse, things were going to change. I was miserable.

After all her reassurances, Ahuva did in fact start clinging to me more urgently than ever before. Being engaged, there was naturally so much to discuss and there never seemed to be enough time to talk.

By that point, losing track of time had become almost customary. I felt that familiar sinking sensation when we realized how late it had become. “If I miss this bus, I’m doomed,” Ahuva moaned as we ran the ten blocks to the bus stop. “It’s the last bus tonight.”

We reached the stop just as the bus pulled up. “Phew,” I said, panting.

But instead of making a dash for it, Ahuva stopped running. “I can’t,” she whispered. “I can’t go home now.”

I stared at her oddly. She was choking up, right there in the street. I reached for her hand. “But… your mother?”

She shook her head as the bus snaked off into the dark.

Her mother had no choice but to allow Ahuva to sleep over at my house.

If my mother expected us to pop popcorn and have a good time, like I would normally do when I had a friend over, she was surprised. Ahuva and I sat down on the couch in the living room and spoke through the night. Once again, I wished I could freeze the time, pretend there was no future. No marriage, no tomorrow.

Then Ahuva made a request. “I want you to come to my Shabbos kallah.”

“B-but,” I spluttered. “Your mother!”

She looked at me, breathing heavily. Her face was tinged with sadness, fear, pain — but also something new. Surrender and… relief?

“I’m getting married,” she said simply. “I’m old enough to choose my friends.”

I nodded solemnly, but my insides turned. Instead of rejoicing, I was filled with an inexplicable dread.

Ahuva invited her friends for Seudah Shlishis. My sister lived in her neighborhood, and I stayed at her house for Shabbos. Friday night, Ahuva picked me up and we went on a long walk together. It was our private Shabbos kallah, without any partying.

The Seudah Shlishis was the definition of awkward. Ironically, I didn’t tense up in Ahuva’s mother’s presence. We were cordial to each other, if not friendly. What was weird was being around a tableful of the closest people in Ahuva’s life, all of whom were complete strangers to me. I left the event wondering: Who was this girl and how had she landed in my life?

And on top of that, how was I going to survive her wedding?

(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 764)