It’s 2am, or something like that. I am not really sure because I tip-toed ever so quietly downstairs to the computer to write this -- not wanting to wake anyone (including the dog).... The point is --- I can’t sleep. My head is full of replaying memories and my heart is happy, and full of anticipation. Like the night before a trip when you were a kid. That feeling. Well, sort of.
I met Jeanette in college, maybe second semester of my freshman year. We don’t need to do the year… then my kids might ask me again if we had phones. Of course we had phones, but the kind that are plugged into the wall. You know back in the days when a “hashtag” was a “pound” even further back than that. Ok, 1995. We were both Alpha Phis, and though that “made” us sisters… it wasn’t until the following year we became friends. We were the most unlikely pair. I can’t help but giggle a little recalling our stark differences. She was an accounting major. Honors college. She is going to kill me for this-- but she knows it is all true. She was quite serious. As President of the sorority, she would look down the line of exec board to me to do the devotional, only for me to look back at her with “big eyes” and “wing it” because I had forgotten, yet again, to pull something ahead of time. My only job as Chaplain. And I was sure beyond any shadow of a doubt she was thinking “That was your only job???”
But it worked… I winged it, and she smiled- and I knew she got me. Even then. It was that summer that the two of us attended Alpha Phi Convention in Scottsdale, AZ that - fate as I call it- took over. An English teacher would point out foreshadowing --- as we would meet years later in the same town just before Jeanette and Mike (her husband) were going to have their second child.
I was President after Jeanette- and that ‘required’ us to be roommates. The memories flood me - but all with smiles… laughs… pure, simple friendship. We were addicted to Days of our Lives, and in fact I must confess-- scheduled our classes around it. Yes, well, b/c it was live TV WAY back then. :) And Bo and Hope were true love. And I really don’t need to explain the rest do I? Or sure Marlana was the Devil… We would race from the second floor apt….to our classes… running and talking about the whole way there. The Fashion School and the Honors college were not right next door…. So as we split … we would still be screaming to each other about what had just happened…. Every. Single. Day. By the time I got to my seat in class I was still laughing or smiling about the ridiculous conversation we just had about ‘Days’ and how many people along the route thought we completely insane. Or they just smiled too. Friendship is a gift. Even when you are a stupid, self absorbed college student- you know that.
We had formals, and date parties, boyfriends, and graduations. It turned into internships, jobs, and engagements. She married Mike just a few months before I married Ben. (17 years ago) And I was there as a bridesmaid in her wedding , as she was in ours. We discussed the important things in life that year, flowers, cake, dresses, dresses, dresses. As they moved around the US - Ben and I traveled to see them. Beach vacations, and trips back to AZ. Then came babies…. They had a girl, we had a boy, then a girl, then they had two more boys. Life was good.
Jeanette was the first friend I called when I found out I had breast cancer. The first one.
And as I write this through tears… I believe I was the first friend she called too.
That was just a few months ago.
It shouldn’t be this way. Is that what you are thinking? You’re right. How can this be?
My mind just kept saying … “But I was the one in eight. I was. “
She has breast cancer.
I did as any friend would- I went to see her as soon as I could. It was for her MRI appt. Of course my first hand experience played into my heart beating a mile a minute as I entered the hospital that morning up in Cleveland. I couldn’t recall the last time we saw each other… it was a fun weekend with college friends. This, this was such a contrast it made me shake a bit. But, as soon as I heard her voice at the registration desk- everything changed. There were no tears- only laughs that morning--- that poor lobby witnessed two old friends that couldn’t stop each other from laughing, and talking a mile a minute. Friendship is a gift.
A couple weeks ago- I mailed her my wig. My heart sank. We shared clothing, makeup, even a baby crib… but a wig? While at the post office I had to get insurance on the box and I told the lady what was inside. I started to cry. Out of nowhere. She looked at me and said. I am a 12 yr survivor. I smiled- the tears stopped.
Jeanette had her 5th round of chemo on Thursday. And she and her amazingly supportive husband Mike are joining us for Velvetonia tomorrow evening. Our conversations now consist of pathology results, side effects from chemo, and how kids adapt. As I celebrated my 5 year mark- just a month before Jeanette was diagnosed. I am once again reminded. Cancer is a sneaky bitch. And it is personal. I am reminded that it can happen to you, or me. I have no doubt Jeanette has already kicked cancers ass. And her brave journey will be one that she will look back on and remember what she took from cancer rather than what it took from her. I know she is the ‘glass half full’ girl, and I believe in her. Same as I did in college. In her marriage, and as a mom. She’s got this. And I am continued to be be inspired by her.
I could fill this blog with my many memories… of our friendship… my mind keeps reminding me of more. I can’t wait to see my lifelong friend, Alpha Phi sister, and now pink sister Jeanette tomorrow. ( and Mike too) What’s that saying?--People come into your life for a reason…. Oh ya…. That.
** This Pelotonia Ride 2016 if for Jeanette.