Dancing in the Rain
Life has a way of piling on the character builders. I wrote in the fall about the death of my best friend’s parents. Their deaths were traumatic in a way that I hope never to experience again; I cannot imagine the sheer trauma that Jeanine experienced. Apparently that wasn’t enough ; the universe decided to throw in another horrible surprise. Two weeks later , her brother in law died quickly and suddenly of a heart attack. Like us, he was relatively young, and there had been no warning.
The last months have been a nightmare of paperwork, insurance, and the clearing out of households; that terrible work of deciding what gets saved, and what memories and items don’t make the cut. Jeanine has done the lion share of the work. She has done this with the grace and humor she has shown her whole life. Because we have known each other forever, (our mothers were pregnant together), we don’t have to put on any fronts with each other. We have been with each other through the best and the worst that life has to offer, and have always found a way to laugh together.
So today, I want to celebrate my amazing friend as she finishes up what can only be described as a miserable weekend. Yesterday, she spent the day clearing out her brother in law’s apartment. Today is the estate sale of her parents belongings. After months of sorting, gifting , and donating, what is left is to be sold. To make it even a little harder, the sale is taking place at her childhood home; soon the house will be put on the market. Life does indeed pile it on.
The gift of this time has been that Jeanine and I are closer than we have ever been. We are in touch nearly every day. In the past we have taken our friendship for granted, not anymore. While I am in awe of the strength and grace that Jeanine has shown, I am not surprised. Through every tough time in our childhood , Jeanine stood up. Together we weathered family craziness, neighborhood bullying and a multitude of scrapes and injuries. We also survived the fantastic benign neglect of the seventies, often disappearing on biking adventures that sent us miles away from home with neither cell phones nor helmets. Throughout my life, Jeanine has simply always just been there.
Whether it was our first recital as butterflies,* or the constant neighborhood birthday parties*, we were each other’s person. I am determined to be grateful for our friendship everyday, and never forget how lucky I am.
So here’s a shout out to best friends. The friends who have seen us at our worst , and love us anyway. Here’s to friends who are unimaginably brave and are lessons in acceptance and courage. Here’s to my friend Jeanine, who has been dancing in the rain with me forever. Love is really not a big enough word.
*1 Jeanine is in a beautiful fort position. My stance and muscular thighs tell me I was waiting for fall and recovery. *2 Jeanine’s sixth birthday party. I was as always fancy. In my immediate neighborhood, there were over twenty kids roughly the same age... the birthday parties were constantly on the calendar.