When I was at the hospital Friday to see my aunt, the rest of the family left and it was just us and my cousin, Amy.
We left my aunt while the nurses came in to help her, ostensibly to go downstairs, but really to go to the waiting room and talk about things we couldn't talk about in front of her.
We settled down on the waiting room couch, me on the right, Amy on the left, and my mom in front of us. And while Amy gave us the updates, I couldn't help but think about how thankful I was, to Amy, and to my aunt, for being in my life, and how often through the years Amy and I had slouched, in those same positions, next to each other on a couch, through good times and bad.
We were born within a month of each other, and were always together growing up, interrupted only by my frequent moves around the world as an Army brat. When I came back home for good in 1986, we were best friends.
All through middle school and high school, we were a constant presence in each other's house. She always wanted to come to mine, because it was cleaner, and I always wanted to go to hers, because there was less supervision. I spent days on end at her house...I was my aunt's fourth daughter, and she was my second mom, only without the constant monitoring I got from my real mom!
Amy and I were with each other when we learned our grandmother had died, and again when our grandfather died. We got in trouble all through high school together. Courtesy of Amy, who fixed me up with my first boyfriend, I got my first kiss...and also my Junior Ring Dance date with a different guy, when I no longer had a boyfriend!
We continued in this vein, through a lot of ups and downs and tragedies, and through my one girl and her three boys, not seeing each other nearly as often, but, when we do talk on the phone or see each other, as comfortable and comforting as always.
I'm so proud of her for what she's accomplished. Also a little worried, as most of the burdens of this are falling on her shoulders, even though she has two sisters. It's Amy who always goes to every doctor visit with my aunt and uncle, because she acts as their interpreter (my aunt and uncle are deaf). I could tell she was unraveling there, in the waiting room, even as she made us laugh as usual. You know one of those people who can always make you laugh? That's Amy.
So anyway, I felt that one moment of grace when I was sitting there, as usual, beside my lifelong best friend, who saved my life many times as I was growing up. Tears, and uncertainty, but also grace, which hopefully she felt as well. I know she'll always be there for me, and I will always be there for her.
Here we are, circa 1973:
Thank you all so much for the kind words and prayers, you have no idea how much it meant to me that you were thinking about and praying for us. I'm truly grateful.