Please welcome my friend Debby Myers back to the Window today. I love her subject and have been adding up my own best friends ever since I first read her post. Thanks to all of them, to you for reading, and to Debby for writing.
“Friendship," said Christopher Robin, "is a very comforting thing to have.” ―
From the time we begin making friends, we usually find a “best” friend. As adults, I’m pretty certain we all have a bestie or two or three. I consider my husband, my mom, and my kids all my best friends. However, as teens, it means something else. A “bestie” is who you tell all your secrets to, run around with, talk to about guys, laugh and cry with, complain to about teachers and parents or anything really.
At 18, I moved into a fabulous apartment with a balcony. I was AWAY from home. Not only away from home, but doing pretty darn good. I had more friends than ever. I was attending business school and interning at a beauty school. The only thing that kept everything from being perfect was that my boyfriend still lived in our home town.
My two “best” friends, Leanne and Maribeth, were my roomies. We each had our own room, privacy and always had each other’s backs. Yet I don’t really think I understood then what “best” really meant. Truth is, I hadn’t even met my “best” friend yet.
That happened when my boyfriend, Mark, came to pick me up one Friday night. I asked him why he didn’t just stay at my place. He said it was a surprise. Turns out the surprise was a party at Maribeth’s ex-boyfriend’s house. But when he came to get me, I didn’t know that yet.
Mark arrived and I ran out to the car, anxious to see him. He said “we’re riding in the back.” I opened the car door and started to scoot in and that’s when I saw her. I immediately got back out of the car and after a heated confrontation with Mark that included me refusing to get back in, but he convinced me that it was only an hour car ride.
You see, Maribeth’s ex was Mark’s best friend, Rich. His new girlfriend had caused Maribeth a lot of grief. Maribeth was my roomie and one of my “best” friends. I didn’t like this girl by association―let’s just say I hadn’t let go of “high school.” Now here I was stuck in the car with her having no intention of saying one word to this witch.
About 10 minutes into the trip, Mark had to relieve himself. Rich turned onto a country road, then pulled over. He and Mark got out and went across the street behind a tree. I yelled to them that I needed to go too. They yelled back, “Well, get out and find your own tree.”
Now it’s not like I’d never squatted on a country road before, but the witch got out, too. Before I knew it, she was squatting very near me. When I glanced over at her, something stuck me funny and I began to giggle. I couldn’t stop! I fell over with my pants down and couldn’t get up – I urinated on my hand, then she began to giggle too! She got up, handed me a wipe and pulled me up. We kept laughing all the way to the car.
The rest of that ride home was surreal. The four of us talked, laughed and made up a list of people to call for the party later at Rich’s house. That night we had a blast – we connected.
So now that I’ve shared the history of our first meeting, I can let you know that the witch’s name is Cathy. Now at 55, Cathy and I have been “best” friends for 37 years. Real best friends. We’ve helped each other through so much life – between us we have four divorces, six marriages, five children, and too many jobs to count. We have lost three parents, a brother, a sister-in-law, an ex-husband, and many dear friends. We’ve both had medical emergencies, car troubles, and been broke. Cathy might be the one person who knows me better than anyone else – my strengths and my weaknesses, my triumphs and my tragedies, my loves and my hates.
One of our favorite things to do over the years was to take an afternoon, get in the car together, drive down country roads with the music loud, sing and laugh. Cathy would scream at old barns that looked like they were falling down. I would yell at people who drove by. It was a release―we could both forget about whatever troubled us. Sometimes we would stop at a pretty spot and share happy memories of the past plus hopes and dreams of what’s ahead.
You might be asking yourself why I chose this topic. The first couple of articles I wrote for Liz were about my Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis. At that time, almost three years ago, I was in such a good place. Working as a manager in a newly built grocery store making good cash. I was married to a wonderful guy. We were just back from a vacation in Hawaii. Both of us were heavily involved in theater – acting, directing, serving on the board. Our circle of friends and colleagues was endless.
But it was Cathy, my real best friend, whose friendship proved endless when I was at my lowest, not long after my diagnosis. And it was Cathy, my real best friend, who brought me through my stage of depression, when for the first time I contemplated suicide. It is still Cathy, my real best friend, who I talk to nearly every day. A life altering disease, like Multiple Sclerosis, is a daily battle. I’m not indicating that I no longer have a circle of friends. So many have reached out to me. Yet it is Cathy I go to―that’s how you know a real best friend.