When I was young and in junior high and high school, I had lots of friends. Going to 10 elementary schools and 4 junior highs (luckily 1 senior high), I learned how to make friends quickly. As I matured and my life became full with family and career, I noticed I didn't have a lot of friends. I had many acquaintences, mostly through my jobs, but not a lot of friends. I realized that having a friend took more than just being a friend, that it took both people making the friendship a priority in their lives. Mio marito, Rick, is my best friend, hero and love of my life. There are friends that were in my life for a time but due to geographic or time distance are fondly remembered but are not a part of my life today.
|Bill & Sandi - Christmas 2011|
My sister friend, Marcia, has been my confidante, mentor and shining light. Just being in her space, to feel her energy, is inspiring, healing and joyful. She and her husband Chuck, raised three amazing sons, and she was the first person I called when I had parenting challenges. Marcia's insights, sense of humor and empathy helped me navigate bumpy parental and job-related roads. We don't see each other or talk to each other as much as we would like, but there is an unbreakable bond that comforts me. I know if I ever needed Marcia to be by my side, she would be there without question.
My friend and life mentor, R, has helped guide me through some dark times, counseling and loving me through them. We talk by phone every week, conversations that are often brief, but are touchstones that keep me grounded. Sometimes, I think R knows me better than I know myself, and she gently reminds me of my truth when I need to be reminded.
|Melanie & Kacy|
This brings me to my friend, Melanie. I met Melanie through mutual friends. A hairdresser with quite a large clientele in St. Louis, she quickly became mine, and Kacy & Emma's. It is true that hairdressers know everything about us...when we are getting our color done, our eyebrows waxed, out hair cut, styled and blown dry, we spend hours upon hours together over the years. Melanie became much more than our hairdresser as she became a member of our family. She attended every celebration...graduations, anniversary parties, weddings. She was the last stop for Kacy & Emma before their prom dates in High School. An "old hippie", Melanie entered a room with a sparkling smile, fashionably "cute" outfit and just the right shoes and accessories. It meant a lot to her to be a part of our family, and vice versa. She had a lot of clients, but Melanie didn't make a lot of money, so it was really special that she would work to save money so she could come to Florida to see us. She came in June 2010 and we had the most wonderful time together! She loved Grouper and had it everywhere we went. Melanie was going to come see us again this month, January 25. My dear Melanie passed away suddenly due to surgical complications, the week before Thanksgiving, one week after she retired from her long hairdressing career. She was surrounded by friends and much love.
|Melanie & Me|
|Ben & Christopher|
The week before Christmas, I lost another friend. Christopher, the life partner of my friend Ben (who passed away suddenly in October 2010) died of a brain aneurism. Ben & Christopher lived their lives LARGE. They did everything together and they loved to travel. Their facebook pages are filled with photos from their trips. They inspire me to DO and not just to dream about it. While I grieve for Christopher and Ben, I am comforted because I believe they are together again, as they should be. Theirs is a beautiful love story.
|My Mom & Me|
As I write this, my mom Colleen, who is 75 years young, has been in the hospital for the past week or so. She has been diagnosed with shingles, which is extremely painful. She suffers from COPD and has a heart condition as well. Having her down makes it a challenge for me to continue to focus on my vision of going to Italy. And yet, I'm inspired to focus on it even more.
Life is not a dress rehearsal. It is ours to live, by the choices we make. I encourage us to make choices that support our visions. So our realities will be inspired, meaningful and memorable.