I am going to protect her privacy and not name names, because my friend is not the type to enjoy a serious fuss made over her anyway. The laughs and cheers that accompany her slapstick, smart-aleck comedy are always welcome, but she is never one to tolerate real drama, or even worse, tears. I fought them back as I spoke to her on the phone yesterday afternoon, though all I really wanted to do was have a nice, cleansing shock and panic breakdown. But for once, this situation, and in fact, this post, are not about me. So I swallowed my tears because on top of everything else she’s dealing with, my buddy shouldn’t have to comfort anyone. On second thought, my blubbering may have offerred her a distraction in that she could have impatiently chastised me for jumping right away to the worst conclusions (I have a habit of doing that, you know). I’ll try to remember that when I visit her later this week.
My friend and I have been in each others’ lives since the age of 14, when my skinny, Harry Caray glasses wearing, Lutheran school geek self first began to idolize her. She was so much more confident, funny and cool than I could ever dream of being at that time (hell, even now). We engaged in all the usual freshman year of high school milestones together: first periods, first stolen hood ornaments, first time drunk on a tennis court – you know, the usual.
After that year, she and her mother relocated to Hawaii, where her mom had found a great new job. For awhile, a long while even, my friend and I exchanged letters, gifts and other trinkets through the mail, a la Beaches. Inevitably, as we grew older and our lives took different paths, the contact lessened and eventually dropped to nothing. I never forgot her though and corny as it sounds, I was always sorry I never said the words, “You are my best friend.”
So what a boon for me when the advent of Social Networking came about. My friend and I reconnected on FaceBook two years ago. By then she was a lawyer in New York. Though so many years had passed, slipping back into friendship with her was like finding a favorite pair of worn slippers hidden in the recesses of your closet. While in law school, she had met and fallen in love with a great guy, who, lo and behold, happened to live in Chicago. My friend relocated shortly thereafter and we began a comfortable routine of emails, home visits and happy hours.
But now she’s in trouble and looks to be in for the battle of her life. It’s the Big C. She is an otherwise healthy 30 year-old woman and all of the sudden, her world has been turned totally upside down. I promised to try and be cool when I pay her a visit on Friday, but I don’t have a very good poker face, as you may have guessed. I am very likely to sniffle, but thankfully she knows to expect this after 16 years of friendship.
Honestly, if she had any inkling I was even going to say this much about her on my blog, she would have already rushed over here to unplug my computer. But I have learned from my past mistakes and will not repeat them. I will say the words I was too immature and foolish to say when you moved to Hawaii. You are one of my best friends, and I am here for you. Even if I annoy the crap out of you and you yell at me, I will take that as a sign of your continued strength and smile right at you.