Just sitting here in the peaceful morning. The air is crisp, but I would rather wrap myself up in my sweater than turn the heat on. The sun is diffused by the fog and it makes the morning seem younger than it really is. I want to savor the early day without caffeine or rushing to the gym. Today, I can take my time.
I've stepped off the roller coaster and the merry-go-round that has been the past two weeks. I stand steady again. No longer unsettled by the twists and turns. No longer feeling the need to scream as the cart goes sliding down the hill. I'm on solid ground. I keep tapping it with my feet. A subtle dance of calm.
They say laughter is the best medicine. It is so true. Hearing my friend's strength and humor and gorgeous laughter was exactly the elixir I needed. I knew she was fine. Sure she would beat this. But it took me a moment to realize it was her on the phone. It was such a sweet surprise.
"Do you have a moment?" she asked. "I have many," I returned. Then, I listened for an hour, mouth pinned in an ear-to-ear grin before the laughter took over. I kept mine as quiet as I could, not wanting to miss a word. At one point, she asked me to promise not to say anything else funny; she almost ripped a stitch. She said that as she was laughing. And I don't think we stopped until we said goodbye.
Shortly after we hung up, she sent a text that they were sending her home. We can forget how precious that four-letter word is until you are kept from it. Home now contains her family, her friends, her neighbors, her fans. We have all moved in, even if we are still far away. Crowding her in the best possible way. We are in this together. In it to win it.
She is not the same woman she was twelve days ago. Neither am I. I stand in awe of her strength, her courage, her determination, her positivity and grace. They say something like this changes you at your core. That is also so true. I suggest, however, that you don't wait for an awful diagnosis before you decide that life is too precious for bullshit and negativity. That you can truly overcome anything when you decide to and you ask your loved ones to support you. And the unexpected side effect is that, when you give that love out, it comes back to you in the most beautiful and peculiar ways.
There are more steps to be taken before this journey is through, but we are going to take each one with a great deal of joy. Who said chemo can't be fun? Deep down, who hasn't wanted to wear a wig? With that attitude, she has already won. Now do you see why we are all madly in love with her?
We are going forward with our eyes and hearts open, and our arms wrapped around each other tightly. Humbly moving forward, willing to do whatever needs to be done. Here's one thing you can do for her: Please encourage every woman you know to take the blood test for ovarian you-know-what (she and I don't like to use that C-word). She is young. She had no family history. Don't let age or genetic background be diversions. Don't wait for symptoms. Take the test. Demand it if you have to. They are seeing this in younger and younger women. This is something you can beat.
I am sitting here thinking of all the things I am grateful for. I have always counted my friendships as my deepest blessings. This one is truly frosting on my cake. And, here's the thing: Just because time has crept between you, even though there might be distance of many miles from door to door, that doesn't keep you from being as close as blood, in spirit or soul. The connection is there. They say friendships come to you for a reason, a season or a lifetime (we've all gotten that group email, right?). Well, I think it's all of the above. We see the reason, and know that there will be a somewhat challenging season coming up, but we so look forward to the lifetime of friendship -- one that is long and healthy -- full of laughter and stories that start with, "Remember the time..."