A Very Important Phone Call

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 ┬ájust 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.

My hero!

Our time together yesterday was such a gift and I love this girl!

24 thoughts on “A Very Important Phone Call

  1. Dear Gina, you don’t know me and I don’t know you. But through Terri I want to wish you all the best, strength, determination and courage. Plus smiles and laughs, to counter what is coming. Fight for yourself, for your family and friends. Friends like Terri.
    Keep on talking, you two, for hours and days. You need each other.
    Huge hug,


  2. I hope your friend is around for ages of long talks and laughter. My prayers are with her and her family. She is lucky to have a friend like you who she can talk with about anything and everything.


  3. Terri and Gina,
    In 1999, Sports Illustrated pondered the entire 20th Century, all sports, all levels, to decide on the Top Sport’s Moment of the entire century….no small task. I know none in the first half of the 20th Century as I was not around yet. But I have read of some biggies in many sports.

    They chose an Olympic event from the spring of 1980…..Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, over in New York. We were hosts to the world, and deep in the Cold War. The Soviets Union always won at Hockey!
    We were at immense odds with them, as they invaded Afghanistan (ironic) in the prior December, only months before. Their team was steroids central, and just a glimpse of them melted many opponents.

    The USA was never the hockey capital of the world…that would be more Canadian…say Calgary area (pronounced “cal-GAR-y” by the locals, and mispronounced globally).
    The coach named as head of the USA team had no players. He gathered a motley crew of amateurs and college players. He bound them together in spirit, as a team, as ONE! They played their hearts out over and over, practiced, came up with novel game plays, and fixated on resistance.

    I remember doing an Industrial Trade Show that February night, and a TV was on for the game….the FINAL game of Olympic Hockey that year. The Soviets skated smoothly into the game. On the other side, they faced….our USA amateurs, who fought the best of the best and climbed their way into the finals. No one expected them to go more than a round or two, certainly never make the finals.
    But the coach and his players were unique.

    No one paid attention to the trade show or booths, as all eyes were glued to the TV.
    Mine too! And I don’t watch hockey. But this was too much to believe.
    These amateurs were holding their own, goal for goal with the best in the world, and THEY were US! They went ahead with 4 minutes or so, to go, and in hockey, that is an eternity of time left for the Soviets, who need milliseconds to score.
    But they were checked, stopped, met, faced off, walled in, and finally a count down began at 11 seconds by the entire audience, as if we were going to the moon; 10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 WON! WON! WON!
    We WON!
    No one could believe it!
    Al Michaels was the TV announcer and I still recall the inflection of absolute disbelief at the pandemonium going on before the eyes of the world. The Soviets were humiliated by nobodies from the USA.
    Al Michaels shouted a phrase repeated ever after:

    “Do YOU believe in MIRACLES?”

    The next issue of Sports Illustrated came out and was the only issue to have only a picture on the cover, and no words…no headline, …no anything except the picture of the instant pandemonium on the ice….for that picture told the story. It was clicked at “Zero”, the moment of victory in countdown.
    At the end of the 20th Century, Sports Illustrated picked that moment as the Greatest Sports Moment of the Century! It was a miracle.

    “”Do you believe in miracles?” rings in my memory ever since, thanks to the way Al Michaels delivered a spontaneous truth to the world.

    We are in a new century. It will take another 88 years to go before the greatest miracle moment of the century can be announced. I do not have to wait.

    I was looking at your eyes in the picture above, Gina.
    I noticed the wall switch to our right, is turned off, but your eyes are turned ON, with a glow of life, a Holy Spirit living inside you, an announcement from your soul, in that galaxy of a smile you own, proclaiming in the same inflection as Al Michaels did:
    “I BELIEVE IN MIRACLES” echoes from the picture.

    The story on Gina, from Terri a short while back, switched to a story of her garden repair, then only half done.
    I was in awe of her climbing magenta clematis in the background. Mine never grow that swell.
    It will continue to climb, to dominate, to become the greatest impression in the garden.

    Little did Terri know that in days, her friend Gina would out shine her clematis picture, and become the greatest miracle we all have seen in the 21st century! You WON! You WON! YOU WON!
    I don’t need headlines, story, anything….the picture of your face tells me of the victory.

    I enjoy the comaraderie of you and Terri gabbing your lives together, intertwining as a climbing, filling out, ever-blooming, clematis of life together, and bursting through this struggle now.
    I watched 8 sisters grow up, and raised 2 daughters (as a single dad). Both sisters and daughters gab, as if they could read each other’s minds, and also talk with their hands in a kinda “girl-talk-sign-language”, universal to the better gender on Earth.

    That is the story of Terri and Gina, preparing to announce the greatest Miracle of the 21st century!

    I prayed for you in a chapel when Terri sent a clarion call need for prayer for her friend…..something only a friend could do! On the wall of the chapel, surrounded by stained glass pictures in windows, and a ever-present Holiness, is written precisely ONE headline from God. It comes from His Word in Psalms.
    Psalm 46:10 is written down the entire wall vertically.

    “Be Still And Know That I Am God”.

    People think miracles ended when fish and loaves were multiplied. Not true.
    The living, loving God is STILL in the miracles business. I see it in your eyes above!
    You are Terri’s hero.
    But you are my inspiration, that as any of us walk through our journey of life as fellow wayfarers, we are never alone. We walk each step with He who does Miracles for those who ASK.

    The main reason for the amateurs in our Olympics beating the greatest hockey players on Earth in 1980, had a lot to do with a guy named Jim Craig. He was a college boy who happened to be our goalie.
    As the Soviet tanks rolled through Afghanistan, pushing their way anywhere they chose to go and dominate, their hockey players flowed down ice and massively invaded our side of the ice. But each slap of a hockey puck was intercepted and stopped, over and over by Jim Craig. I don’t know HOW he stopped those guys so many times, from so many angles and speeds, but their score was held low, as the turtle-team USA scored one goal at a time, and then took the lead and guess what?
    They had to hold the lead for over 4 minutes to win.
    JimCraig allowed NOTHING to score past his hockey stick or arms or legs or wits.

    The kicker?
    In that solitary moment of victory, I recall the screams of Al Michaels saying :
    “Do YOU believe in MIR-a-CLES???”, but my eyes watched Jim Craig….and as a then-growing-deaf guy, and now completely in silence,… and totally deaf guy, I lip read extraordinarily well.

    Jim Craig had no microphone.
    But his lips echoed to the audience as his eyes moved to and fro.
    He was screaming ONE thing over and over, as he searched for the one he wanted to share as his best friend…his miracle moment just made. I read his lips as he shouted:

    “Where’s MY Father? Where’s MY Father?”

    Over and over, his lips proclaimed this until he found his dad and the VICTORY was shared with the one person he wanted to have part of his moment of miracle…his father.

    Tomorrow, June 17, 2012 is Father’s Day across the land.
    Jeff will celebrate all week, all the rest of his days, as the greatest miracle he ever wanted, has occurred.
    Gina shares his life still, his kids, his love. The father of the house is pleased to his core.

    But we have another Father too.
    He is the Father of all of us, and he resides in us, in the form of the Comforter, a Holy Spirit.

    The picture of the 21st Century, up above, catches a glimpse of HIM in your eyes.
    Why is HE in that picture?
    He just completed a miracle!!!!

    The Author of Life is continuing to write new chapters for Gina, Jeff, Terri and us, and we get to read and share and witness, as the miracle of YOU, continues!

    But for now, we switch our prayers and pleadings to save you in surgery (um, HIS Hands were inside the doctor’s hands doing all the work)….we switch from prayers for a miracle, …..
    to prayers of THANKSGIVING.

    “Where’s MY Father! Where’s MY Father!!! Where’s MY Father!!!”

    I want to give prayers of THANKSGIVING for this miracle He has done again!

    And as for you, Gina, his message is not in a picture, but written for all time in His Word, and on the wall of a prayer chapel I use when a miracle is requested. He speaks to you Gina and simply says to his daughter (no sign language at all as the gals do):

    “Be Still….And KNOW…that I AM….GOD”.

    You are deeply loved by Him, by Terri, by all of us….not for what you have done, but for what you are.

    You are a 220 Volt woman in a 110 Volt world! You Go Girl!

    We celebrate Father’s Day early this year; the father on Earth, and the FATHER in heaven.
    Thank you for being HIS miracle to all of us.
    God be with you….always.



  4. No matter what we think about when we hear of these ‘things’ that are happening to others, when it happens to us…to our loved ones…to our friends, it is different. We don’t care if we should be glad for what we have. We’re angry, frustrated, helpless and we want it to be happening to someone else. You’re doing what a real friend does – just being there.


  5. If I remember correctly, after seeing her picture, Gina used to have a blog that I quite liked, and missed it when she stopped.
    I applaud her courage and resolve, and she has my best wishes for a full recovery.


  6. An extraordinary friendship between two extraordinary people is rare, but you both have it and hopefully, you will continue to share like this for a very long time. My best to you and to Gina and my wish for a full and strong recovery.


  7. Wow. I said it before, Gina is one brave, courageous, funny, strong, ballsy woman. I admire how she has tackled this head on and not bury her head in the sand. She is a true hero in her fight and you are one great friend to reach out to her and keep her spirits up. I know she needs it, especially now. You nailed it on the head – life is a gift and we need to cherish each moment we have. I am not exactly a religious guy, but I will keep her (and you) in my prayers.


  8. I can see why you love her! I admire her tenacity and her fight and her ability to keep her sense of humor. She must feel blessed to have a friend like you. Please let her know that we’re all fighting with her.


  9. I think those plans fell through for a reason — for you to have the time for a lazy, meandering chat with your girlfriend – just what you both needed.

    My bests to Gina for a full recovery!


  10. Terri, you’re such a good friend — hang in there because Gina is going to need to draw on your strength!
    Gina, blessings to you for a complete recovery!


  11. Such a tough, crazy few weeks for Gina! My God, I have no idea how she is coping. I guess you just have to. You’re right though, we constantly overlook our blessings because of the trivial.


  12. A friendship lke this doesn’t happen too often. It is a wonderful thing. Chances are you’d have spoken as long even if Gina hadn’t been through this ordeal. Its that true bond that makes your friendship so special.

    I will continue to pray for the both of you .

    I can see you are doing your part!


  13. Sounds like you both needed that chat. It sounds like the sort of chat that only really close friends can have – hope you find time for another one really soon.


  14. Oh, Terri.

    I am so happy you and Gina shared such a wonderful five hour phone conversation. I love hearing stories about friendships like these.

    And, I wish Gina a speedy recovery. And she will be in all of my prayers.


  15. “The days ahead might be difficult and the future holds no guarantees.” That is true for all of us, and I agree, it’s too bad we need something like the illness of a friend to make us realize it. As someone pointed out above, lightning bolt miracles do happen. They also don’t happen. I have no idea how prayer works but I’ll put Gina in my prayers. You are lucky to have each other. Terri, we’re going through a very difficult time with our grown son right now … please send a few prayers his way.


  16. Gina has been on my mind. She enters at random times, producing random thoughts.
    What can you say about a woman you never met?
    Then again, I never met Terri in living color, but only in virtual memory.

    Another woman I never met, Alice, lives in Illinois. A month ago, she wrote for prayer, saying she would run 12.5 miles for the first time in her life…a 42 year old mom of girls. Why?
    A 5 year old girl in India, Avishi, will be sold by her parents at age 6, to raise money to eat and live.
    Avishi will be a sex slave at age 6…apparently a custom, or right of passage there.

    The run was to raise $750 and it would be matched by a sponsor.
    Alice needed strength, and the money for a girl a world away, who is the age of her own children.
    Prayer requests went worldwide.
    Alice emailed me last night on the impossibility of a woman,…. who’s idea of running is to catch the grocery cart as it slides away at the store. She reported to me last night the strength to complete the run came. So did the money.
    It totaled $147,000….a number that astonished even me.

    Lives will be changed far away forever.

    Which made me think of Gina again.
    She is changing all of our lives from where she is, as she goes through struggle.
    We all struggle…but not like that girl, that disease, that pain.
    We are all in her debt for sharing her needs, her desires, her hopes, her mourns.
    Focus returns to the soul; not the body.

    Another gal made me think of Gina.
    Amy wrote this:

    “Sorrow is one of the things that are lent, not given.
    A thing that is lent may be taken away;
    a thing that is given is not taken away.
    Joy is given; sorrow is lent.”

    ~~~ Amy Carmichael, Irish Born Missionary

    Thank you for lending all of us your sorrow, Gina and Terri.
    And, Thank You for GIVING us …..your joy.


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