An Open Letter to My FRIEND
I met you when you were five years old. I was six. We played in the yard and on your swing. That’s all we had as we were only together on occasional weekends when I went to my grandparents cottage at the beach. Besides, we weren't allowed out of your yard.
A couple of years later, we were probably seven and eight and we went out on your parents boat. No bathing suits but It didn’t matter, we stripped down to panties and thought it was such a special day to go swimming like that. I can remember the fishing poles coming out and your dad baiting hook after hook because we had somehow gotten into a school of perch and we were pulling them in one after the other. Or maybe it wasn’t a school but two dumb fish that didn’t have sense enough to swim away.
We played with your dog Honey, and then Candy, when she came along. If I’m not mistaken there was even a monkey in the household for a short time at some point.
Do you remember when we were ten and eleven and we would go to the pavilion in the evening, parents in tow of course, and we found a place on the “wall” around the open air dance floor and we couldn’t wait for the right songs to play on the jukebox so that we could line dance with the teenagers?
Do you remember the summer we were thirteen and fourteen? Your dad was taking us waterskiing and just as we were loading the skis and whatever else we had the fire whistle went off. Your dad went to see what was going on a the firehouse across the street. There was a drowning in the river and with him being a member of the Coast Guard Auxiliary and the boat was ready to go, we were called into service. Young teenagers holding the ropes to the bar of grappling hooks. Wanting to be the ones who found the drowned man but scared to death that we would, in fact, be the ones.
Fast forward to the next summer and now we’re fifteen and sixteen. We were now the teenagers at the beach. Do you remember the night we took white sheets from home and had Alan drive us out to the “haunted house” a couple of miles outside the beach and leave us. He went back to get the others and when they arrived and made their way to the scary second story we came out of the rooms on either side of the staircase, covered in white sheets, Do you remember the screams of those twenty or so kids, boys and girls alike? Do you remember how hard we laughed? I’ll never ever forget that.
Same summer…..we wanted to go roller skating at the roller rink and before it was over we had 72 kids going with us.
We spent our days on the beach tanning with our many friends or on the river water skiing. Oh those were the days.
The next summer we were sixteen and seventeen and our dads were commuting and we’re living at the beach practically all summer. this is the summer we discover Boonesfarm Wine and weed. Our weekend nights were spent in a cornfield at a keg party or on that old back road known simply as “Old Faithful”. Oh what a summer that was! I wish we had a dollar for every lie we told our parents that summer!
We graduate, we get jobs and our own cars and our horizons broaden. It isn’t long before you’re twenty and I’m twenty-one. We took our first flight together as we jetted off for a fabulous week in Hawaii. We’re not satisfied with the cottage anymore, we head to the ocean for our weekends now. That’s where the real party-ing is taking place and we have to be there.
You get married and I was your Maid of Honor. When it fell apart I was there for you. When you had your son just a month later after your separation, I was there for you then too. I spent my weekends at your place because of all places for you to live, you were back at the cottage. It was like we came home.
Through the years, we’ve never lost touch. Through failed romances, marriages, remarriages, your son growing up, through my husband going to Desert Storm, through other problems better left unsaid here, you were there for me and I was there for you. Always.
We’ve been through this journey we call life together, standing up for each other, telling each other when we were wrong, encouraging each other when one was down, standing by each other’s side the whole way. I’ve had your back, you’ve had mine.
I’m going to be by your side as we travel this next phase in our lives. This isn’t something I would have ever wished for you. Since you called me the other day and gave me this “news”, you have been on my mind. Rarely are you not in my thoughts. I pray for you ten times a day at least. I want this to go away. I’m not as strong as you are right now. I cry and I feel bad that I cry because you are so upbeat and positive that you will win this battle. You HAVE to win this battle! I want to have that same attitude but I’m not there yet. I’m still trying to wrap my mind around this and I’m just not there yet. I feel terrible that I’m not but its going to take me a little bit of time to get there. But I will. I will be there for you when and if you need me. But you know that already, don’t you?
You amaze me my friend, You talk about this, the Big C as you called it, like its a wart or something. You voice has not so much as wavered when we’ve talked. Are you in fact being strong for me? Do you know me so well that you know that I have to dwell on this for a bit, that I have to turn this over and over in my mind and then let reality sink in and accept what is? Well, I don’t want to accept this! I don’t want this to be! I don’t want to talk about biopsies, and lung scans, and chemo and radiation and an operation, I don’t want these words associated with YOU! But they are. And I hate it already,
Very soon now I will pull up my big girl panties and accept that this is reality, For you. And for me. Yes, both of us because I will be at your side this entire journey. Not physically of course, you’re in Georgia and who knows what state I’ll be in after April. I will be there any hour of the day that you need me. I am but a phone call away. I promise to laugh with you, I promise to cry with you, I promise to be strong when you need me to be and I promise to just sit on the phone and listen to your silence when you need that too. I will be there for you. Always. We will face this demon together.
Our amazing friendship now spans fifty continuous years. FIFTY YEARS! Not many our age can say that my friend. I’m looking forward to at least thirty more!
I am so glad you are my forever friend. I love you girlfriend.