As my 31st birthday rapidly approaches, I'm reminded of how much life has changed over the last 10 years. It has been a decade filled with pain and sorrow, but also happiness and love. My early twenties were wrought with drunken partying, sexual promiscuity, and social drug experimentation, none of which were abandoned during the loud proclamations of my own togetherness. The pain that ensued from this lifestyle could actually have been foreseen if only my own eyes hadn't been shut, but hey - what's that infamous saying about hindsight being 20/20? Truth be told, I can't stand that saying yet I find it irksomely appropriate. Well, my middle twenties marked a time of new beginnings and growth. My beautiful son was born and I met the man I now call "husband." As I climbed out from the tar pit of early twenty-something mistakes, I developed a new set of proclamations about my own togetherness. I was living the American Dream as my husband and I purchased our first home and I planned my bright future. Life was good. Or, so I thought. By 27, life took a new turn and my late twenties turned out to be the worst yet. Based on things that happened to me, one might think my early twenties should wear that crown, but it was my late twenties that placed me in a room face to face with the girl of my early twenties. She was broken, hurting, and totally dependant upon the girl of my late twenties to bring her healing. It was a long road, but as I reflect back now I can see the face of one crazy, beautiful friend who stood by me through this entire last decade - you know who you are.
As I prepare for my 31st, it occurs to me that I've undergone an almost disconnect from the previous decade. In doing so, I see remarkable growth and positive movment in a forward direction, but I also note new hurdles and obstacles, as well as distance between myself and someone I still love so much. We met when I was 21. She worked at the local bar where I started waitressing part-time through college. We weren't instant friends, but we grew close fast enough. Though we were only a year apart, I looked up to her somehow. She was like no one else I'd ever met and our friendship started to blossom. I had no idea at the time what an amazing friend she would turn out to be.
Even as her dedication and loyalty to our friendship became visible over the years, I don't know if I ever stopped to tell her just how amazing she is. Though the dynamics of our friendship have changed, I'm reminded of how unbearable the last 10 years would have been had she not been by my side through them all. The night I drunkenly totalled my car, she was one of the first to reach the bloody scene. Her voice was the last one I heard as the phone shattered in the crash and I slipped into unconsciousness. The night I was raped, she assembled local police to search for me and didn't rest until all options had been exhausted. The following week, she helped me dig through weeds and trash to find my purse and other personal belongings that had been carelessly thrown over a fence from that same terrible night. She stayed by my side as I shamefully shared the story with hospital staff, and some time later she threatened our friendship if I didn't get a handle on the out of control drinking that had become my existence. I finally got that handle - at least for awhile.
A couple of years passed and she temporarily moved to the Virgin Islands while I was busy falling in love for the first time. She stayed in almost weekly contact with me for the exciting updates. By the time she came back from the Virgin Islands I was heavily involved in a relationship and became pregnant not too much later. Because she was still without children and single, this left us with less in common, but our friendship remained strong. I moved to California and started suffering from severe anxiety attacks as I genuinely questioned my sanity and faced the hard issues of life. Having been there herself, she was always there to say the right thing and comfort me when I was afraid. Her voice was the one I sought when times were good and also when they were bad. My voice of reason when everything else was falling apart, she never let me go through a painful second of life without being by my side, even if it was over the phone as one of us was crouched in a closet corner. She simply "got me" and always knew how to help. Throughout the first few years of my marriage, things weren't always good and when they were at the absolute worst, she kept me laughing when nothing else could. We shared an almost odd sisterly connection and could somehow just be ourselves when it wasn't acceptable anywhere else.
From late nights filled with thirty dollars worth of Taco Bell filling our stomachs as we sat up laughing and talking to the day not so long ago when I heard through the grapevine that she was officially a licensed nurse, I'm in awe by how 10 years have passed without me letting her know just how terrible life would have been without her and how thankful I am I never had to find that out. I remember the night she found out she was pregnant. "Heather, it's positive," she said in terror. "Hold that thought, I'm ordering my pizza on the other line," I responded in panic. Panic over what, I don't now recall. Both her pregnancy and the safe delivery of my pizza I suppose. Hers and mine has been a strange friendship indeed, with some days illuminating her as crazy, others as beautiful, but in my heart as both.
As the last ten years come full circle, it's rare that she and I talk now. Both of us settled down with kids and life and living in different states, the dynamics of our relationship have certainly changed. I've recently turned my life over to God which detracts even more from that which we have in common, given her own beliefs that are rooted more in an atheistic perspective. Does it mean we're no longer friends? No. It just means that if we're growing and changing throughout life, as we all should, then the dynamics of our relationships will also change. I've thought about this a lot as I've watched some of my other relationships change as well. The point is - changing relationship dynamics doesn't have to mean no relationship -and to my crazy, beautiful friend, you know who you are - you are always on my mind no matter where life takes us both. I am so proud of you and honored that for at least eight of the last 10 years, you've essentially been my other half. You've turned into an amazing and beautiful woman and I love you so much!
Take the time today to let someone know how much they mean to you! May you all have a blessed day!