I almost lost a friend once. We were very best friends. Like…do everything together, love you so much, thick and thin, tell it like it is friends. You know those kind of friendships that feel like forever; where you know that, no matter what, you will care where that person is when they are eighty?
I have a few friends that I can say this about. Girls who I would run to even if I hadn’t seen them in years. The friend I am talking about holds a very special place in my heart, and it is hard to think how close we came to losing that.
A little history: (I could tell you a million stories, but they just seem too personal… too “ours.” So, I will give you the ones I feel are shareable.)
Friendship example #1, 2002’ish…At a Halloween costume party, just before we decided to ‘perform.’
My friend: Katina, I don’t think you should smell your pits on stage!
Me: Call me Mary Katherine Gallagher.
My friend: OK. Mary Katherine, I don’t think you should smell your pits on stage! And don’t you try to do a back handspring either. Don’t you try to do it!
Me: (bounding onto the makeshift stage) Sometimes, when I get nervous…
My friend: (behind me, through gritted teeth) Don’t you do it, Don’t you tumble…
Friendship example #2, Sometime after 2002 at our little old house with the giant ditch in the back. My husband & my friend’s husband had gotten angry at our ridiculous ability to telepathically give each other Taboo answers. My friend had an idea…
My friend: Hey, I just had an idea for the best game…it’s gonna be called, Ball Rodeo! All you do is see who can balance on this yoga ball the longest.
My husband & friend’s husband: Yeah!
Me: I’m tired. I’m going to bed.
Friend: You’re going to miss out. It’s gonna be awesome.
Me: Goodnight, y’all better not break anything.
Crash sound coming from ‘game room’ (‘game room’ may be a bit of an over exaggeration…’tiny room with Scarface poster, futon, and play station’ is more accurate)
Me: What happened?
Friend: Don’t come in here. Katina, DO NOT come in here!
Me: (walking in & seeing husband’s upper torso plunged through the wall) Oh my GOSH!! What happened?!?
Friend: Two words, Ball… Rodeo
I can’t remember the exact moment, but at some point we kind of drifted apart. (I know, I know! How could Mary Katherine Gallagher & Ball Rodeo Queen ever drift apart?!?)
I had been married for a while, and I wanted a baby. She had not been married as long and wasn’t ready for that yet. When I started going through all my baby junk…surgeries, doctors, shots, my friend was in a different place. Looking back, I can see that I completely shut everybody out. I was hurt and I wanted to waller. (I think the real word might be wallow… This is probably one of my Granny’s southernisms.) Anyway, I wanted a pity party, and I guess I was mad when my friend didn’t throw it.
I also had a massive amount of strong hormones pumped into my body, so I may have been irrational. For example, we were both reading the Twilight series. She finished before me. As I was reading the honeymoon chapter, I became suspicious of stupid Bella’s stomach aches & throwing up… My heart rate sped, my world spun, was this vampire loving hussy about to be pregnant?? No!!!! Not Bella! Not this stupid, vapid, teenage cliche!! I quickly texted my friend:
Me: (in a very hostile tone) Is Bella pregnant?
My Friend: Who is Bella?
Me: (shrilly) Don’t play dumb!! I can take it! Just tell me. Is… BELLA… PREGNANT?
Me: Noooooooooo! I’m burning these books!
Life went on, as it always does, and my husband and I moved on to adoption. This was a super lonely time in my life. I think it was because I was younger than most people who adopt, and I didn’t know anybody else who was in the same situation. I was really bitter and angry. I got pregnant and had a miscarriage. It’s been years ago, but it honestly still stings to write about. I was extremely hurt. I was so very sad.
It was about this same time, that my friend started trying to have a baby. I hardly remember what was going on with our friendship then, but I know it seemed strained. We hung out some, but I was probably weird & totally self absorbed. (I started doing a lot of yoga, quit eating meat, and obsessed over possible adoption situations. So, basically, I was a super fun person to be around. ;)) Also, I just knew that at any given moment that old heifer was going to get knocked up, and then I would have to hate her forever! (I’m sorry, I already admitted my bitterness & anger! The hormones, remember? Don’t judge!)
She didn’t get pregnant; and even though we had drifted apart, she was still the person I called when the miraculous happened…
I will never forget finding out our little girl had been born. My husband and I called our parents and brothers, but as soon as we hung up I immediately called my old friend. I could hear the true joy in her voice, the laughter, the tears… (I don’t know if you are crying reading this, but tears keep escaping my eyes as I am writing it!)
Life got crazy, I was crazy, she was crazy…
My friend found out she was pregnant. She miscarried.
I found out I was pregnant again. I miscarried.
You would think two old friends, like Mary Katherine & Ball Rodeo, would have bonded over these hard times. But we didn’t. Somehow, we had both hurt each other’s feelings. We fought on the phone, we yelled, we hung up, we unfriended each other, on Facebook & in real life.
I’m not making this up: I found out I was pregnant… I found out my friend was pregnant. (Goodness, doesn’t God have an interesting sense of humor! He knew we were two jealous, crazy ladies! His ways are so awesome & his timing perfect.)
This sounds unrealistic, but I can say with all honesty, I had just felt the first little gold fish flutters of Bubba moving in my tummy, when I heard my phone’s text alert, and saw a text message with my old friend’s name at the top. It said, “Congratulations.”
Y’all, it was like she knew…like she knew I had just felt this tiny little thing move…she knew this was real…Like when we used to kill it playing Taboo...(Seriously, one word & we knew exactly what each other meant.) She knew.
I cried so hard. I ugly cried… for myself…for her… for our lost babies… for Mary Katherine… for Ball Rodeo… for the dumb girls we were… & the grown mamas we were becoming. I cried for the last few tatters of our friendship.
So, here we are, some years & some babies later. Is it the same friendship as when we were twenty? Of course not! We were idiots! Do we still love each other? Yes! Can we read each other’s minds? I’m not 100% sure, but I have gotten some perfectly timed text messages.
I’ve been thinking about how God looks at us like I look at my babies. He loves us more than that. It’s incomprehensible. I think about my kids fighting, and how much I hate it. I can’t stand seeing them being mean to each other. I think about how happy I am when they love each other. If they randomly hold hands, my heart swells. How much more must God feel…
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor. If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” Ecclesiastes 4:9-10
This is me randomly holding my old friend’s hand. Love u, Ball Rodeo… Yee-Yee…