It still boggles my mind to think of – the fact that some of my closest friendships were born of a stroke of luck. How I followed someone on Twitter who suggested following his colleague who later chimed up when I said, “HEY I WANT TO WALK A MARATHON” by saying, “I’m doing the Avon Walk. Join us.”
And I did.
And I drove down to Chicago that first year and forty miles later it was like I’d known Debbie and Barbara forever. In a good way.
If you don’t know ‘em, Barbara is the beauty on the left. Debbie is the beauty on the right. That’s me in the middle. You know my face.
Today is Barbara’s birthday.
I love birthdays because I think it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate the day someone was born – and when it’s a friend, it’s even more important. And when it’s a friend like Barbara? I couldn’t just SAY happy birthday because, man, I have words to say about her. (Also? I didn’t get a card in the mail in time because I suck a little bit.)
I have adored them both since we met, but as each year passes, the closer we become. I’m grateful that Barbara and Debbie have taken me in. They have been friends for quite some time and expanded their circle to fit me. To spend time around either of them is a blessing – especially because both Barbara and Debbie are some of the kindest people you’ll have the luck to meet ever. They have been some of my biggest supporters over the past few months and I smile when my phone buzzes with a text from either one.
Barbara – our birthday girl – is the kind of friend who will name a baby goat after you. When you tell her that this will be her high maintenance goat – she will text you back and assure you that no, this goat will be smart and funny. She will take pictures of the goat (the one you begged her to name after you) and post them on Facebook and tag you in them. And! It will make you insanely happy because DUH baby goat.
She is a breast cancer survivor who has logged MANY HUNDRED MILES walked and MANY THOUSAND DOLLARS RAISED and fights tirelessly to support the Avon Walk and increase awareness of this disease. When a friend of my family was diagnosed with breast cancer last year, Barbara offered to be available to the family so they could ask her questions or talk to her about her experiences. I admire her strength and her heart.
She is one of the many reasons why I will keep walking the Avon Walk until there’s a cure for breast cancer. Forty miles ain’t nothing but a thing with a team like ours. Sure, the blisters suck but the laughter? It’s good.
The other day, a text rattled my phone. It was Barbara. She and Debbie had spent the weekend together with their husbands and Debbie had sent me such a lovely text the day before. Barbara’s text to me said: Blood doesn’t make you family. Love does. You’re my family. Love you.
And I smiled. I was sitting at my desk at work having one of those days and her message could not have come at a better time.
Other things you may not know about Barbara:
She hates the word P-E-E (see, I spelled it out for you). She doesn’t eat sweets but she’ll eat cupcakes if my daughter makes them because she doesn’t want her to feel badly. She likes to dance with strangers along the Avon Walk course – even if the strangers are old women with whiskers. She’s the kind of person who will take your kid’s Flat Stanley for a week and then create this amazing story book all about Flat Stanley on the farm because your daughter loves animals. She’ll even get the pilot of her flight to pose for a picture with Flat Stanley. When your friends are struggling, she’ll call to make sure you know, to rally the troops so you can surround each other with love. She has gorgeous hair. Hell. She’s just gorgeous. She’ll have the refrigerator of your hotel room stocked with healthy snacks (and wine) when you arrive. It’s virtually impossible to not like her.
She has a heart that as big as hearts get.
She also is the reason I take pictures like that one up there.
(Barbara? Y-O-U-R Awesome)
She’ll know what it means.
As I typed this, I thought of the line in Stand by Me: “I never had any friends later on like the ones I had when I was twelve. Jesus, does anyone?”
There are certain friends from certain times in my life – my best friend, I met in 8th grade. Another close friend I met in science class on the first day of our freshman year of high school. I have friends I met in college that I still talk to.
But I really never anticipated that some of my closest friendships would be those that began after I turned 30. Some of these friendships are younger than a kindergartner but as much a part of my heart as any that have spanned over 20 years.
And I’m not sure why. And the thing is, I really don’t even need to know.
I’ve always surrounded myself with good people. My life is made better by these friendships.
And when you’re lucky enough to love and be loved by friends like I have, you need to be sure to let them know how much they’re appreciated.
A birthday is a good day to do that, don’t you think?
Happy Birthday, Barbara. In my head, this was far more eloquent and coherent and not such a rambly mess of goo, but sometimes I’m not eloquent or coherent, and sometimes I am goo, and somehow I think you’ll forgive me all of those things because I’ve spelled everything correctly.
I appreciate your support and your love and your friendship and your positivity and your joy and your support and your texts that make me laugh and your Sarah goat and your heart and your strength and your encouragement and your thoughtfulness and your pictures of animals and your perspective and your Debbie and your ability to distinguish between your and you’re.
YOUR ONE OF MY FAVORITE PEOPLE AND I’M SO GLAD YOUR ALWAYS THEIR FOR ME.
(Ouch. That hurt to type.)
Happy birthday. You are my family.