I was texting with my bestie, Kelly, who lives in Texas the other day.
We can have an hour long conversation without every actually speaking to one another.
We let our fingers do the talking.
We talk about:
TV…This Is US on NBC has had us bawling and she finally watched the entire season of Gilmore Girls after my constant goading and (no surprise to me) she LOVED it!
Our kids…books they like to read, struggles at school, driving, bullying, bitchy teachers.
Random Gossip…that’s my favorite.
She and I have known one another since we were five years old.
She’s exactly two weeks older than me and while we did have a falling out in junior high school (she claims that I was mean to her and didn’t talk to her YET when I was at her house last summer we found her junior high yearbooks and I had signed them and written smiley faces in them and all of that junior high stuff you write in yearbooks so I’m NOT buying that crap!) we have been very close all of these 41 years.
And in those 41 years we have shared a lot of stuff.
Like the time we crashed into a fence on an icy road in her neighborhood on the way to a high school basketball game where we were to perform at halftime as we were on the pom-pom squad (what the kids these days call the dance team.)
Or when we lost the muffler on her car driving home from Chicago on the expressway and were terrified to tell her dad.
She lost her dad after a cancer diagnosis when we were in our early twenties and as she’s an only child, my sister-like shoulder was there for her to lean on.
We were roommates in college for one year at Illinois State University.
We worked together, with our hunky manager Pete, at Garcia’s Pizza in our college student center building and mostly just sat around on the counters gabbing with each other, drinking Diet Coke (her addiction to DC started at age 8, I think), and only occasionally serving people slices of Gutbuster Pizza.
Then she decided she didn’t like college and didn’t come back sophomore year.
I was her maid of honor at her wedding.
She sang along to the Elvis impersonator who married Man-Farmer and I (way before my husband ever considered that one day he wouldn’t live in Chicago) in steamy Las Vegas.
She’s been my go-to gal for all things Disney World.
It’s her single favorite place to vacation.
If she and her husband could (and they may) they would get jobs at Disney and live under Cinderella’s Castle in Florida.
I held her first born son weeks after he arrived.
And my oldest daughter’s first plane ride, when she 3 months old, was to Texas.
We flew to Texas for Kelly’s baby shower as she was due with her second son the next month.
She was the first person my husband called to explain that our second child born was NOT a boy as we had been told and had been expecting, but was instead a girl. She was floored and had the best reaction (I did NOT want a boy baby. I had been hoping for another girl and the specialist that I had gone to had declared my fetus to be a male) when she said “Wow, I didn’t know someone could will away a penis like that!”
She was the first person I called, while still in shock, to say that my five year old daughter had been diagnosed with leukemia.
Our lives have been intertwined through the years.
We have vacationed together.
We have laughed together.
We have cried together.
And I almost lost her a few years ago.
My phone rang one morning and when I answered expecting to hear her voice I was stopped dead in my tracks when I heard her husband on the line.
I instantly knew something was wrong.
She had been in a minor car accident a few days prior (which I had known about) and she had suffered a stroke that morning as she was getting ready for work.
A stroke at the age of 43 was NOT on her list of “things to do this week/year/EVER.”
She’s a trooper and has come back with a vengeance from this setback.
She’s walking, talking, has gone back to work, she’s driving.
She even walked down Main Street at Disney World less than a year after the stroke.
Walked by herself, with the help of a cane, which her doctors had said wouldn’t have been possible.
She still doesn’t have full use of her left arm and hand, but is doing every single thing out there that she can find to bring full functionality back to her life.
And an inspiration.
People don’t really know, deeply and fully, how special they are until they have to push themselves out of their comfort zones.
Until they are pushed to overcome the unimaginable.
And one of the things that I think makes real friends REAL FRIENDS is that we do have differing views on things.
I am way more liberal than her.
She’s not very political at all.
She loves her microwave and texted me just a few days ago the trials and tribulations of her microwave’s recent death and the birth of its replacement.
I don’t own a microwave.
I hate microwaves.
I love animals of all kinds.
We have 22 pets on our farm.
She only likes dogs.
And really only her dog.
I fully blame her parents on this as she never had pets growing up and her family now would like more pets, but she’s not having it.
She has been raising two sons while I’m raising two daughters.
She deals with pee next to the bathroom toilet and I’m dealing with menstrual cycles.
My best friend of 41 years.
I don’t know what I would do without her in my life.
Friendships that have endured this long take commitment.
Not an everyday commitment, but a commitment that settles deep within your soul.
A strong desire to sustain something that has meant so much through the years.
It’s very easy to let people slip through the cracks of your life.
It’s easy to let communication slip and it’s easy to get so busy within your own little circle of to-do lists that people slowly disappear from your life.
It takes a strong eagerness to sustain a friendship for 41 years.
I know that I can text her at any time of the day and get a quick response back from her.
And she can do the same with me.
Like she did the other day telling me that she thought she was going blind.
Only to discover that she had accidentally put both of her contacts in one eye.
It was a great laugh and just what I needed on a dreary, cold day in Illinois.
I live down the road from where she and I grew up.
I drive past the grade school on a daily basis where we met back in 1976.
South Shores Elementary School, home of The Superstars.
Where the blonde girl, who walked through the field to get to school, met the brunette who lived across the railroad tracks.
And where a lifelong friendship all began…