Friends Are Everything

krisanderi Last night my daughter was in the tub playing with her two new mermaid dolls, Olivia and Alexis (her names for them.) I asked her how they were. Her response: “My friends are being dramatic.”

Growing up, my pretend friends were dramatic too sometimes. Their names alone were quite interesting; Karen Ann Damichio, Linda Ann Commute, and lastly, the most unfortunately named, Wendy Feces.

I spent last weekend with my closest high school friends, Erica and Kristin. It brought back a flood of memories like during our senior year when we dressed up as members of the Jackson Five and played hooky. We spent the afternoon driving to random parking lots and dancing to songs like “C’est Chic”out of our friends’ stereo in her gold VW Bug.

Erica and I both moved to New Jersey our junior year. We became fast friends. She was with my family the last Thanksgiving before my Dad died. I recall it being a wonderful day. I also remember putting a cowboy hat on my Grandmother and singing, “I’m Too Sexy.”

Erica didn’t blink an eye a week later when I asked her to accompany me on the two hour drive to the hospital where my dad was after his car accident. That year she spent many hours patiently sitting with me on my mother's couch.

Kristin and I traveled in Europe together. She was the ideal travel partner; always up for anything including  talking at any hour. I smile deeply thinking of a lovely dinner we had in Amsterdam. (No, we weren’t at a coffee shop…not then anyway.) We spoke of our dreams and our love of travel. She mentioned wanting to join the Peace Corps. Fast forward thirteen years later, she now travels around the world with a non-profit organization and spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Bolivia.

All of this reminiscing about friendships brought to mind a conversation that took place years ago with a family friend visiting from Minnesota. It was a cozy night at my mom’s house in New Jersey, in the same room I used to hibernate in. I asked her, why, all these years later, she still lived in a town she was not crazy about.

She had moved to that Midwestern city with her family from Arizona about twenty years before. In response to my question, she thoughtfully said that after all of this time, although it wasn't perfect, they now had friends. Good friends that they did not want to leave.

It brings tears to my eyes thinking about how my friends here in Tampa, many of them new ones, brought us dinner right after my babies were born. The dinners and congratulatory hugs helped me survive those first exhausting transitory weeks.

Last weekend my brother sent me one of the most moving articles I have ever read. It was written by Madonna Badger who lost her entire family in a fire two years ago at her new home in Connecticut. Of course, it was gut wrenching to read and at the same time unimaginably hopeful.

She wrote about the friends surrounding her hospital bed as she lay there in utter disbelief. She wrote about the friends that took her into their home with whom she ended up living with for a year. Along with her unfathomable determination and a lot of professional help, friends are what got her through.

My husband told me last night as I was going to bed that he saw our son, Will, put his hand on the back of a teammate at his baseball game on Saturday. The boy was having a tough time hitting the ball. Will wanted the boy to know it was okay.

This brings me such peace because I feel if my children understand the importance of friendships that they too will always be okay. When we have friends, we have everything. And I am not being dramatic!

Here's a link to the Monica Badger article. Thanks, Rich.