As a child, I chose my friendships based off people’s faces. Life was much simpler then… if someone had a kind face, they were automatically deemed a nice person who was deserving of a friendship.
By my teenage years, I chose friendships based off risk. Could I trust the person? How much would it hurt if they betrayed me? Looking back, I can see my friendships during this time period were shallow-based and reminds me why these friends have scattered as I’ve matured.
As an adult, I choose my friendships based off feelings. When I meet someone, I know within a few moments if we’d get along, and what similarities and differences we have that could strengthen or hurt our friendship.
While living in Baltimore, I first experienced the beauty of natural friendship. Heading to the elevator to bring medicine to a client one day, my insides jumped as I heard someone loudly say, “Hey Boston! You stole my boyfriend!“
A co-worker, working on a different treatment team than I, was yelling this towards me with a big smile and laughter on her lips. I remember feeling stunned and wondering if this almost-stranger really believed I stole her boyfriend. Who was she? Who was he?
“Actually, I had this dream that you stole my boyfriend. Hi, I’m Elizabeth. You’re Boston, right? I’m here from Indiana.”
And so began the natural friendship between myself and my best friend, Elizabeth. Within a short period of time, our intimate life details spilled incautiously through bubble tea dates and tears during simultaneous break-ups. I never had to work hard in our friendship or explain my crazy thought patterns… she always just understood. And I understood her.
We supported each other through dark and turbulent times. Through break-up’s dealing with heavy issues, the death of my boyfriend, leaving Baltimore, and family tragedies. We cheered one another on during celebratory moments, mimicking eager cheerleaders’ excitement and pride. She stood by my side as I faced the death of loved ones for several years, and I stood by her side as she grappled with issues in her own life. Elizabeth has seen every ugly spot on my soul and still loves me unconditionally, as I do her.
About one month ago, Elizabeth casually mentioned that her feet felt strange and tingly. Being in our late 20’s, I chalked it up to stress or our office jobs that result in sitting 40+ hours a week. But by the following week, a dark pit grew in my stomach knowing that in fact… this wasn’t just stress or boredom, something was wrong.
Fast forwarding to today, Elizabeth is now headed to a medical center offering world renowned care in rare medical syndromes. She is the first thought of my every day and my final prayer before I fall asleep.
Facing the unknown in a friendship can shake one to their core. It’s a balance of support and strength, of insight and honesty. It’s a constant battle between ‘I wish I had the perfect words to say’ and ‘There are no perfect words to say’. It’s a mixture of calm knowledge that God will make this right, and fuming anger that the world could miss the mark and afflict someone so good with something so bad.
Most of all, facing the unknown allows you to see someone’s true colors. Even more so than found during a natural friendship, facing the unknown strips people to their essence and soul. During the past month of facing fears and having her faith rattled, Elizabeth has continually checked on me, asked how I’m doing, and supported me through the unknown. It’s a daily reminder that our friendship is not based off her kind face or the knowledge she’d never intentionally hurt me, it’s based off of our souls being connected, intertwined through time.
All that’s left to do now is pray. I pray and hope and wish and plead with the universe. I beg for answers and peace to find her soon. I put faith in the medical team that will guide her back to health and allow her to live freely once again. I look forward to our next reunion with hopes of saying, “Holy hell, that was a scary ride, huh?“
But most of all, I dream of one day soon when I can wrap her in a hug, hold back my tears, and remind her that she is simply the bravest, strongest woman I know and I’m lucky just to know her name.