Friendship and the joy of being wrong
Booking flights is normally pretty easy for me. Search, look at times, select, pay. No sweat.
The morning I most needed to book flights, I couldn’t get my brain or eyes to cooperate with me. I kept looking at flight times only to find my vision blurred as I thought, inescapably, My mom is dying. My mom is dying. My mom is dying.
What should have taken me five minutes took an hour, and I still hadn’t bought tickets. I texted my girlfriend Dana about my frustration with myself; she immediately wrote back and told me not to bother looking further. She’d do it for me.
A couple of minutes later, she’d found flights she thought looked good given my travel constraints and—with my thumbs-up—bought them for me. She told me to think about paying her back when I was in a place to do so, and not to fret about it a moment sooner.
It’s in moments like those—so abundant with Dana—that I remember first meeting her a decade ago. “Ugh, she’s so structured and . . . and unsympathetic!” I then thought as she pushed a small group of friends along the itinerary she’d mapped out.
“Unsympathetic.” I’m sure I’ve been more wrong in my life, but this assessment is always the first example that comes to mind when thinking of my own mistakes and misunderstandings.
Two years after I first thought those words, Dana sent me an enormous box of sour straws that happened to reach me the same day as the saddest letter I ever received from my mom. Even as I sobbed over an accusatory letter from a mom who had never felt less like my mom, I knew the sweetness of a friendship that’d sustain me through losing my mom a little bit more day by day. The $15 shipping fee on $5 worth of sour straws made me smile. I kept the box showing that shipping fee through two more moves in Japan, only parting with it when it was time to return to the United States.
Seven years after I thought those so-wrong words, I left Dana a frantic voicemail about a pregnancy test that had just shown me the “wrong” result. Her words in the days following that were such a blessing to me, and I regretted only that she didn’t live nearer so she could supplement them with lots and lots of hugs.
She suggested the new life that would become Li’l D might be a gift that would help me through something hard to come, so that her words were with me when my sister confirmed my mom’s late-stage cancer diagnosis.
As is so often the case, she was right.
Shortly before Li’l D was born, she visited and brought with her many small, sweet physical presents to supplement those she brings through her frequent loving actions.
A year or so later, I got to see Dana and Li’l D run together. This filled me with so much joy, love and gratitude, it was difficult for me not to cry.
What on earth could I possibly have done to deserve her friendship? I wondered, then and pretty much every day before and since.
It was Dana who hugged me in the sunlight that felt like my mom’s caress on the first birthday I no longer shared with a living mom.
Right now, Dana’s traveling through Ireland in the company of her honey and a little sock puppet pirate named Arrrgyle. The sock puppet was part of her last birthday gift to Li’l D; he’s with Dana right now because she wanted to make Li’l D a fun photo present from her travels.
On Saturday, I’ll be shaving my head for St. Baldrick’s childhood cancer charity.
I’ll also be seeing Dana, just returned from Ireland, for the first time in a year and a half. I’ll take Arrrgyle off her hands, and steal as many hugs as I possibly can in one evening.
There’s so, so much I’m excited for when I think about the weekend to come. It’s hard to rank excitement, or to call one joy greater than another. But there are some joys in life that are truly without compare, and a good, long hug from a long-missed friend is very, very nearly the best of them.
With so much joy on my mind and in my heart today, it’s the thought of that first hug that makes my heart soar highest right now.
Soon (but not soon enough!), all of me will be soaring toward Chicago, and toward my favorite reminder that being proven wrong can sometimes be so much sweeter than being right.
This was among posts accidentally deleted from this blog.