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“My children now call her aunt”

Sometimes you have to lose each other a lot to realize: you are important to me. Nourya and her best friend Jolien can relate to that.

Nourya (39) lives with William (44) and is the mother of Sem (15), Zoë (12) and Kye (1).

“We were inseparable, my best friend Jolien and I. I was in seventh grade when she moved to our village and came to my class after fall break. I offered to show her around school and we never let go of each other’s hand, even when we went to the same high school.

We weren’t your average girls, fussing about politics and the climate. We swore to each other that we would make the world a better place and that we would never marry or become dependent on a man. I chose to study cultural anthropology, she chose political science – at the same university. We both dated, but a relationship never got serious. We traveled through Europe together by train, dreamed of a shared camper, later on. And then I ran into William.

Grow apart

Jolien had a hard time with my crush from the first moment. She was afraid of losing me, thought I was under the rug. That was far from the case, but the reality was that she now had to share my attention. She made a new best friend, stopped sharing her biggest secrets with me and that’s how our friendship cooled to a status quo in which we mainly agreed in the presence of others.

“She made a new best friend and stopped sharing her biggest secrets with me”

We graduated, traveled separately and two years after our studies, William and I moved into a child-proof owner-occupied home in the shadows of our student city. Jolien walked around in amazement when we just got the key. ‘Well, there’s even room for posterity,’ she stated cynically, finished her cup of tea and left. I texted her my happy news when I turned out to be pregnant shortly afterwards, she came to visit when Sem was almost one. The meeting went smoothly and Sem barely gave them a glance. “Sometimes friends grow apart,” William soothed. But I missed my best friend at this most defining moment in my life.

Read also – ‘The breakup with my best friend is even more painful than heartbreak’ >


When social media really took off shortly afterwards, we did link. Sometimes we liked each other’s posts. I mainly posted things about my children, Jolien did little. I was already pregnant with Kye, our very welcome baby, when a mutual friend threw a birthday party and Jolien walked in with an equally big belly. My heart skipped a beat, and for less than a second I doubted what I was feeling.

“Sixteen years we had been more or less separated, and now we seemed more connected than ever”

From that moment on I could only laugh broadly, which Jolien answered. We had been separated for sixteen years, and now we seemed more connected than ever. I felt no resentment for her distance over the years, we simply went down different paths. Now they came back together and I wasn’t about to let her go again.


Fortunately, the contact didn’t stop at that birthday. Jolien gave birth a month and a half earlier than me and since then we’ve been walking together as usual. We live 25 kilometers apart, which makes the situation different from before. At the same time, it is nothing compared to the distance between us in the period that lies behind us.

Jolien keeps her activist touch, and with two big children in a society in which there are perhaps more abuses than ever, mine is coming back more and more. In this we find each other, again. And our children are alone together; my elders even call Jolien aunt.”

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