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Wednesday, August 22, 2012


When I was in high school I had very few friends my own age. I was dealing with stuff very few high schoolers had anywhere on their radar.  As a sixteen-year-old grappling with a case of post traumatic stress disorder that threatened to annihilate me on a daily basis, I clung to whatever life rings I could.  I had my mom, my sister, a solid therapist and some friends that may never know how their consistent, loving presence saved me day after day.  It just so happened that I related not at all to my peers and so my friends were all much older than me,   although none of us seemed to mind.

In case you're wondering, yes, I've always been incredibly lucky in the friend department.

My friend Julie, who was also a friend of my moms and was somewhere between us in age, was a stronghold in my life.  She taught me how to drive a stick shift and how to stay calm. She was my sounding board when my mother was making me nuts.  She knew when to listen, when to hike and when to kayak in what order to mend a broken soul.   I can never repay her for what she did for me in those years.  Perhaps it was just that she, wiser and more experienced, knew what worked.  After all she was trying to pull herself and her two kids through a divorce with minimal damage.

Enter in Julie's youngest daughter, Megan.

One of the school activities I participated in during my pain-filled teenage years was a big brother/big sister sort of program called PALS (peers, assisting, listening, supporting).  I was moved to be of service in this way to a child in hopes that a loving presence might make the difference in her life as it, I prayed, was making in mine.  

Somehow, I'm still not sure how, I got paired to be Megan's PAL.  I was a junior in high school and she was in third grade.  We played on the park in the warm weather and goofed on on those four-wheeled scooters used in gym class when the snow was falling.  We talked some, but mostly we were just together. 

 I didn't have much to give, but honestly, she didn't need very much save for a little time carved out just for her.  I gave her my attention and love and she reminded me how to play.  Looking at myself through her eyes, I began to wonder if my life had more value than I had assessed.   I don't know what she got out of our time together but in her I found meaning and purpose that propelled me forward and out of the dark shadows of those myopic years. 

We were PALS for two years and friends forevermore. 

So you can imagine my delight when we reconnected on Facebook just last week through another friend who had randomly found me.  It just so happened that Megan was visiting her mom for two weeks with her NEW BABY!  I packed up the girls and we went down to spend the day with them.

Despite the fact that, between Megan and I, we had three new people we had contributed to the world, it was like nothing had changed.

Megan with the adorable Ava:
Ava is the first baby I have ever held that made me feel like I was holding Ella as an infant again. The look of her, the feel of her in my arms and just her way of being was so reminiscent of Ella I felt like someone had allowed me a moment to step back in time. I couldn't keep my hands off her. That is until she cried and I handed her back over to her mother promptly. 

When time changes so much, it was so comforting to me to have these ties be unchanged and solid in a way neither time nor distance had effected.
I told Julie she looked no different (and she didn't!) and she told me I hadn't changed a bit (I have crows feet that prove her wrong) and we fell right into the easy cadence of friendship that we had always had.  No heartbreak to process this time, but rather life and stories and joy to share around. 

Julie's oldest daughter has a gorgeous daughter from Guatemala.  She and Ella share a the same name, Gabriella (although one has become Ella and the other Gabby), and the same age.  They became instant friends.

A little leapfrog in the park
It is a beautiful thing to see someone you loved when she was a child grown into a woman and then into a mother.  I probably hadn't seen Megan in 8 or 10 years so there was much to marvel at in the incredible person she has grown into.  And about the precious person she has added to our world. 

Julie and Megan and I form an unusual ring of friendship that I hold dear to my heart. To see Megan as a mom and Julie as a grandmother, to have them meet my girls and see me am a mother made something inside my heart feel complete. These are people I can never thank enough for their integral role in my life.  All I can do is hug them and hope it shows.

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