Tuesday, May 17, 2011

My Best Girl

My best girl is having surgery today. She’s been a friend for ¾ of my life, even though we have spent the bulk of our friendship 1000+ miles away from each other. Maybe the distance is what keeps us friends! I have been nervous and wondering all day, but her brother-in-law recently told me via Facebook that everything went well. I am so relieved.

I thought that I had blogged about Shannon many times, but can’t seem to find anything but details from her 40th birthday party in December. Maybe I missed it, maybe I just wrote the post in my head and never posted it. Or maybe I’m going to say the same things all over again and bore you to death with the same details.

I met Shannon when we moved to Omaha near the end of 5th grade. She was sitting right next to where the teacher had placed a chair for the new girl. Shannon was sweet and friendly and started to chat immediately. We’ve been friends since that day. I cannot remember ever having a serious fight with her that lasted more than a few minutes. We spent lots of time together, a sleepover with us never lasted one night. We’d spend days together, switching back and forth between our houses. My parents loved her and her parents loved me.

Our houses were quite different. I came from a family with a mom that either stayed at home or worked part time. Her mom worked full time. At my house, we’d have home-cooked dinners, her parents always took us out to eat. We always hung around at my house or at the pool in my neighborhood. At her house, we’d go boating and I once even went on vacation with them. We played Barbie’s long after it was cool to do so and we’d spend hours reading teen romance novels.

Neither one of us were the popular type, but we weren’t the bottom of the barrel either. Something that we discuss to this day is how she was treated when she got on the school bus every day. Her bus was one of the last stops and though there was plenty of space available, no one would ever let her sit with them. We discuss this often because it still bothers her that she was treated so badly. What bothers me is that I was on that bus. Why the hell did I never stand up for her? Why didn’t I ever push whoever was sitting with me out of the seat and let my girl sit with me? What’s most interesting, is that we both remember these incidents, they happened daily after all… she’s still angry about how she was treated and I’m sad that I never did anything for her. But she holds no grudge towards me, nor can she ever remember being angry that I didn’t offer her a seat. If I could go back all those years, I would certainly grow a backbone, if only so she’d have better memories of that time.

I moved after we had been friends for 3 ½ years. You would think that we wouldn’t have stayed in touch, especially knowing how different we were becoming. I was starting to dress like a “rocker chick” and hang out with the long hairs. She loved music also, but was part of the school band. It’s ok, you can think it out loud, she was a band geek. I remind her of that all the time.

Here we sit at 40. I attended both of her weddings, she attended both of mine. We gave birth to our second daughters within months of each other, something we probably dreamed of doing when we were little.

Since we live so far apart, we rely on husbands who are ok with us occasionally going on girls’ weekends together. We did this for the first time when we were 19 and both dating our first husbands. We went to the Bahamas for a week. The natives there called us “Blondie and Rosie” and I still bring up her getting stuck on the elevator and having to get pulled out. Every time I mention it, she tries to snap, “It wasn’t funny.” And I tell her, “You’re right! It was fucking hilarious!” Next came the get together’s for our weddings and things quieted down for a while between us as we adjusted to being old married ladies.

Suddenly I found myself going through a divorce within months of her having a baby. I figured it was a blissful time for her and why bother her with my news. She called me in February 1997 to say, “I might be getting divorced.” I said, “Holy shit! I’m definitely getting divorced.” However upbeat my friend sounded, I knew things were tough. She was living back at her parents’ with her infant son. I flew out to be with her the following week. As it always happens, being with her is like wearing a glove that fits perfectly. We talk, we laugh, we shop. Except this time, Shannon cried. Shannon doesn’t cry, EVER and I didn’t know what to do with her. Now we talk about that day and I say, “That one time you cried…”

Fast forward and we’re traveling to each other’s second weddings and introducing our new husbands to each other. The next few years are filled with many phone conversations but not a lot of visits. We finally got to see each other again in 2008 when we went to Nashville together. It was fate that the trip would go perfectly: we flew in from different areas, but our gates were right next to each other and our flights arrived within minutes of each other. We took off in our piece of shit rental car without a map, much to her husband’s horror. We found our way and had a blast. We spent one night in, the other night out. We went to the Wildhorse Saloon and saw a fun band. To Shannon’s horror, I told the singer he was smokin’ hot on our way out the door. I try her patience endlessly.

Shannon was born with an illness (or is it a disease or syndrome?) that gave her a bad heart. She’s frequently out of breath and tired, but I never hear her complain. She amazes me every day with her strength and beauty. She’s a great mom and such a hard worker. I’m amazed when I hear how bad things are with her health because she does so much. And seriously, I challenge anyone to shop with her. Bad heart or not, the girl kicks my ass every time.

So today, they replaced a valve and repaired her aorta. I tried to fly out to be with her, but she asked me not to… mostly because she didn’t want to “waste” a visit while recovering. Instead, I spent the morning worrying about her surgery and wondering what I should send her as a get well gift. Flowers are first on my mind, but won’t she get those from lots of people?

Finally, I hit on the perfect idea… I spent time on Amazon and found lots of our old favorite books. I ordered a bunch for her. I also headed to the local used book place and found some old Judy Blume and a Sweet Valley High. Included in her shipment is a copy of “Firefly Lane” by Kristin Hannah, because that is truly the greatest friendship book ever written.

The books will be sent to me and of course I’ll have to reread them quickly before sending them on. In my own defense, I need to refresh my memory, because I'm sure she's going to want to discuss these books like we did all those years ago! I’ll print off this blog post and send that too. Is there a better gift than a walk down memory lane and a love letter from a best friend?

Love you to bits, Shannie Annie!!! 

Ice Princess

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