Wednesday, March 28, 2012
This is the Reason I Went
Some of us make them easier than others. Some are just naturally gregarious. Some of us are shy and reserved and don't reveal a lot about ourselves. Some of us have lives that are, essentially, reality shows. Nothing is off-limits. When you find that one friend, or group of friends, you just know you belong, the feeling is euphoric. Time and distance don't really matter.
I don't make close friends easily. A lot of me that people see is designed to be superficial. It's a defense mechanism so I'm not hurt. Remember middle school and high school when your 'best friend' turned out to be a name-only person? We changed 'best friends' like we changed socks. For some of us, that kind of trauma is hard to overcome and everyone gets looked at critically for 'friend potential'.
I'm not sure where I heard it, but I was told that best friends will have one really big fight that takes them down to the dumps, takes them to a place where they question if friendship is something they want to maintain or allow to evaporate. If you can be honest with that friend, honest in the face of hurt and anger, fix it up, patch it up and decide that your friendship is important to you, you will be friends for life.
Enter the Internet.
We make and leave friendships much faster now. Friends become a number on your Facebook page. It's doubly interesting with the prevalence of online games which can expand, in hugely exponential fashion, the number of people whom you can call 'friends'. I've mentioned before how I have friends from playing World of Warcraft. Are they 'friends', like Pam and Patt whom I have known for over 15 years and who know all my secrets? I like to think so.
Back in February, my Ohio friends, April and Perry, decided we needed to celebrate April. She suffered a series of mini-strokes at the end of February and the beginning of March last year. It's been determined this is related to the shingles she had at the end of December in 2010. To say we were scared for her was something of an understatement.
April is amazing. Look up "amazing" in the dictionary and her picture is there. Medical tests? She's had them all. Specialists? She rattles off names as if she's reading a phone book. And the hardest part is that doctors don't know. April is blazing a trail. They can't tell her if x is related to the shingles. They can't tell her if this drug or that drug will need to be taken for the next 6 days, 6 weeks or 6 months. They just don't know. She handles this with grace and determination. She's lost 90 pounds in order to make her body the best it can be. She is the personification of 'amazing'. Her doctor called her a 'zebra in a field of horses'. So, we decided to celebrate that.
Once a week, they get together with a bunch of friends and play games. The three of us picked a weekend which worked for a party and invited everyone. I'd met everyone except Jim M, before. Only Chris was informed I was coming. No one else was told.
It was a fantastic evening. They got lasagna and salad and cupcakes for everyone. April got a zebra cupcake and the rest of us got 'plain old chocolate'. We played games. Jim M gave the best toast to friendship and caring and the delight we need to remember to take in each others company. A year ago, we all lived with the underlying fear that this was something that couldn't be fixed, that April was facing a mortality none of us wished on anyone. On Sunday night, we celebrated a year of overcoming that mortality and of her incredibly positive outlook which is a true inspiration to all of us.
I'm proud that April considers me her friend. I hope I remain worthy of that appellation.
Beverage: Edinburgh's Finest tea