“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 mother to 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 the fall break. I offered to show her around the school and we never let go of each other’s hands, not 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 became serious. We traveled through Europe together by train, dreamed of a shared motorhome later. 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 carpet. That was far from the case, but the reality was that she now had to share my attention. She got a new best friend, stopped sharing her biggest secrets with me, and that’s how our friendship cooled to a status quo where we mostly agreed in other people’s presence.

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

We graduated, went our separate ways and two years after our studies, William and I moved into a child-proof owner’s home in the shadow of our student town. Jolien walked around amazed when we just got the key. “Well, there’s even room for posterity,” she said cynically, picked up her cup of tea and left. I texted her my happy news when I soon found out I was pregnant, 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 reassured. But I missed my best friend at this most crucial moment in my life.

Also read – ‘Breaking up with my best friend is even more painful than heartbreak’ >


When social media really took off soon after, we linked. Sometimes we liked each other’s posts. I mainly posted stuff about my kids, Jolien did a little. I was already pregnant with Kye, our much-welcomed baby, when a mutual friend had a birthday party and Jolien came 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 widely, to which Jolien responded. We had been separated for sixteen years and now we seemed more connected than ever. I felt no resentment at her distance over the years, we simply went our separate ways. Now they got back together and I wasn’t about to let her go again.


Fortunately, the contact did not stop at that birthday. Jolien gave birth a month and a half earlier than me, and since then we have been 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 grown children in a society where there is perhaps more abuse than ever, mine is coming back more and more. Here we find each other again. And our children are alone together; my elders even call Jolien aunty.

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