We used to spend hours talking on the phone, way back when our kids were little and we were stuck at home. That was before internet, email and Faceook were common in every household. Gina and I kept each other sane on those calls while we laid the foundation for a lifelong friendship. We compared parenting stories and shared recipes. We vented to each other about the frustrations of life and we got silly, making each other laugh until our stomach muscles hurt. No one can make me laugh like this girl!
Our kids started growing up. Our lives centered on the kids and their needs, their activities and sporting events. We went back to work and those marathon phone calls were fewer and fewer. Soon everyone in the world had a cell phone and we kept in touch through text messages. Our kids were soon old enough to take care of themselves and we made time for each other in the form of photography excursions, bowling and shopping. When her husband’s job took them to another state and fourteen hours away from me, a little piece of my heart broke. The distance may have changed how often we could see each other, but it couldn’t diminish our friendship.
I was shocked when I learned just over a week ago that my best friend had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. Just a few days earlier, she had shared with me that she was having a lump checked out. She told me she was certain it was merely an infection and nothing to be worried about. I know my best friend. She’s a tough chick. Nothing gets her down. I didn’t believe it could be cancer. But it was. A day after her diagnosis she had a double mastectomy.
She’s home now, tired, sore and frustrated. Gina is not one to sit still. Ever. And yet this damn cancer is forcing her to do just that. I was home yesterday, having taken a couple of days off from work. I sent a text to Gina to check on her and then went to an appointment. After the appointment, I gave her a call. Rarely these days do we have time for a nice leisurely phone chat, but yesterday provided that opportunity. My best friend was spending her day in a recliner and craving some company. I had a day off with no real plans, the real plans having fallen through.
And so we talked, for hours and hours. We talked about her health and recovery. We talked about our kids and families. We talked about her work and my work. We talked about how to make homemade laundry detergent and a million other things. She told me it was nice to just talk to someone who knew where she was at, to not have to take other calls and explain AGAIN how she’s feeling today and that she hasn’t yet gotten the pathology report. We put our phones on speaker and I folded some laundry and cleaned a bathroom. Sometimes I just sat in my own recliner and talked.
We talked about this scary disease and the not knowing what lies ahead. At times I’d feel a vice around my heart as I thought about talking with her at that very moment and yet considering the possibility that I don’t know how much or how little time we might have together in the future. Every day, there are people in this world suffering disease and tragedy. I am supposed to be able to compare my life to them and be reminded how fortunate I am. And yet, every day, petty things fill my head and my heart and I often forget to count my blessings. Why is it that something scary has to happen before I remember to focus my energy on what’s really important?
We talked for four or five hours. We didn’t tiptoe around the situation. We even laughed about some things, which felt a little strange, but if my best friend could laugh about it, I knew I could laugh with her. In the end, what I realized is that Gina doesn’t bury her head in the sand. The days ahead might be difficult and the future holds no guarantees. But one thing is for certain, she is going to fight for the future with every fiber of her being.
Our time together yesterday was such a gift and I love this girl!