Have you ever had something on your to-do list for over a decade? I have. Sometimes life just gets in the way. Sometimes I have to rely on other people who are busy with their own lives getting in the way. Sometimes, there are just bigger fires right in front of you that you have to put out.
I have found, though, that some things remain no matter how long it's been or what else has pushed them to the back burner. There are still some things that I am just not able to let go of that I am moved to make some kind of action toward.
One of those things is a lunch date.
Krista and I have been friends since we were 14. Lately, she's been a rock for me as I've been going through a really rough time. The toughest yet. I visited her yesterday when I was feeling lost and confused again and I'm glad I did because not only did I need her warm, welcoming, ever-constant comfort, she indeed needed mine, too. She is processing the recent news of a significant change in her mother's health.
A friendship of over 30 years does not mean that yesterday, I heard the news of her mother's health, either. A friendship of over 30 years means that we're family and that our families are family and hearing about her mother was hearing about my "second mom" of over 30 years. A friendship of over 30 years means that we've been there for each other for all of the major stuff, time and again. There were times when we weren't side by side but we always had a knowing that the door was always open for either of us, no matter which house, no matter what time, and that extended to our family members and mututal friends, too.
We grew up together, caused trouble together, had fun together, and laughed together. We leaned on each other, gave advice to each other, went through life beside each other, and cried together. We continue to do all of these things.
11 years ago, I thought it would be fun to get our mothers together as we often went out to lunch, the four of us, when Krista and I were teenagers. BeYond it being a nostalgic moment and an opportunity to reminisce, I had another reason for initiating the reunion. I wanted to celebrate the moms that we had and I wanted our moms to celebrate the special connection they shared.
That special connection went beyond the 2 fabulously cute, spunky, teenage girls they both had, by the way but I'll get to that.
I brought the idea up and Krista and I and our moms had plans to go to lunch on February 24th of 2012. It's now 2023 and I'm able to recall the exact date we were planning to go to lunch because the day before our scheduled lunch date was the day my daughter was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at age three and a half. Krista and I never took our moms to lunch.
Since that day, there have been so many more of life's "curveballs" (or in my case, "bricks") thrown at us. These include unexpected deaths of way too many friends, painful divorces and breakups, physical and mental illnesses, job and financial strain, debilitating car accidents and more really big scares... and a whole lot of really hard work chasing after dreams that seemingly never came to fruition.
But through it all, my dear friend and I always knew we had each other and we both miraculously had our mothers who also provided unwavering comfort in a way that nobody else could.
It wasn't just about being comforted, though. Our mothers, both of them, were and still are an incredible source of inspiration. Equally, they are the reason we need to stay inspired. They taught us how to be resilient (my preferred word for "strong") and they were the reason we both had to be.
See, the other thing our mothers had in common besides the two adorable, firecracker, teenage daughters who were besties and the reason I used the word, "miraculously" was that they were both Type 1 diabetics. This disease still wreaks havoc on children today but these women were once little girls battling it when survival past childhood was much more rare than it is today. The idea of tolerance or the thought of classmates embracing each others differences wasn't a thing. Advocating for more research or finding a cure was still decades away from being in the forefront of anyones minds. The fact that either of them even had children at all was a miracle alone. The fact that they lived to see their daughters turn 14 was against all odds for the time.
Yet, 30 years later, these women are still the models for warriors of all kinds; for those with a diagnosis and for those who are caregiving. They even spark something in those who only know diabetes as something to avoid getting. Being witness to the kind of strength it takes to be afraid, be different, be in pain, and to have your body working against you on a daily basis yet despite all that''s stacked against someone, someone is still managing to find a way to smile, provide comfort, be kind, nurturing and supportive of those around you does more than inspire. It creates a way of being.
It wasn't easy. It wasn't easy for them and it wasn't easy for us. Krista's mom has suffered upwards of 7 heart attacks, lived through a quadruple bypass surgery, is legally blind and an amputee. My mother is legally blind as well and was in complete renal failure, receiving dialysis, and had an estimated two years left to live by the time I was 17. She has since had more than 13 surgeries on her limited and still deteriorating eyes, a kidney and pancreas transplant, multiple surgeries on her stomach, and failed attempts at surgically repairing breaks and irregularities in her continuously softening bones as a result of the transplant medications she takes daily.
When Krista and I were young, it was not uncommon for either of us to have to nurse one of our mothers out of a severe insulin reaction, at times having to get the paramedics involved. We were both very skilled at helping both of our mothers navigate their steps through dark areas and on uneven pathways, and we were both well-practiced in operating a wheelchair by the time we were in our early 20's. (Although, I present Krista with the ribbon for showmanship on that one as I still crash people into door frames when I'm pushing.)
To explain all this is to say that we all had a bond that is steadfast and surpasses the one that appreciates over a 30 year friendship. It's that of a shared experience. It's one that forms when people come together and just know what the other has been through and is going through. It's one that creates something exponentially bigger than just fewer differences. It's one that encourages someone to look not at what needs to be done or who anyone needs to be. Rather, it's one that pauses to say, "Look at how far we've come."
So, with that, I say to the original CapeFree Heroes:
It's time for lunch.