I was born the only daughter in a four-child family. I was the eldest, which did give me a leg up on my football playing brothers. Although learning judo had its role in maintaining my prominence as alpha-sibling as we grew up.
Perhaps because I had no blood sister, my female friends had huge roles in my life. I could not interact with them on a daily basis as I did my brothers.
When we got together, I loved every minute of it. It was great being able to share important stuff like who we thought was cuter, David Cassidy or Davey Jones (or Micheal Jackson or Donny Osmond.. so many crushes in such a few years!) Or how to put on make up or what colors looked good on us, or what great author we had discovered that summer.
It was wonderful being each other's cheering sections, trading clothes and books, and hidden sorrows.
My mom was great, don't get me wrong, but there are things we could share with a girl the same age that we thought moms just wouldn't get.
Julie, Robynn and Beth Anne were sisters, daughters of my dad's old highschool buddy. They became my sisters in every important way. Julie was a bit younger, so I was closest to Robynn and Beth Anne, but I loved all three of them.
When I was in my twenties, I met more wonderful people during a few years spent in Battle Creek.
They are the kind of friends who, no matter what time has passed, are still close. When I reconnected with them this year, it was as if we'd spoken the day before, instead of months or years ago.
I am 45. I guess the time has come when good friends get seriously ill, or are in the wrong place at the wrong time and we lose them, but it always feels too soon, doesn't it?
We lost Beth first, after a decade-long battle with cancer.
Then Robynn died, along with her son, when her house burned.
Now from the Battle Creek gang, D. has been fighting her own war with cancer for a decade, S. is having surgery to remove a brain tumor today, and my dear P. is almost midway through the horrific treatment to fight Hepatitis C.
And all I can do is make certain they know I love them.
I can send prayers their way, and stay in touch and let them know I care and really want to know how they are, and listen if they need to talk, and maybe make them laugh with a Snatchel or two, or knit something tangible and put my heart in to it.
If it's all I can do, I will do it with all my heart, and have faith it is enough.
Bottom line, I count myself lucky to know them, and no gift can balance what they have given me.
Reminder to self: Call Julie and tell her I love her.