June 21, 2008 by 8junebugs
“Hi, are you busy?”
“We’re just finishing dinner. What’s wrong?”
“I’m okay. Could you just give me a call when you’re done?”
“What’s wrong? You don’t sound good.”
“Um, Mom’s been diagnosed with lung cancer.”
“Oh, my God. We’re paying the check now. Do you want us to com…never mind, we’ll be there soon.”
Sometimes, the best friends are the ones who don’t give you a choice. That’s a rough approximation of the conversation I had with Alicia the night I found out about Mom. She and her husband were there soon, and they brought wine and stayed until I was ready to fall asleep.
Alicia doesn’t get a nickname. She’s identified herself already on this blog and her own–I Hate Swiss Chard–so there’s really no point, is there? But if I had to pick a nickname, it would probably be Den Mother.
Put simply, she takes care of all of us. No matter what’s going on in her own life, she’s there for me…for all of us. She plans bridal and baby showers, she feeds people, she volunteers, she donates blood and platelets.
Really, there isn’t a lot she doesn’t do. If she hasn’t done something yet, she may not have thought of it. Certainly, no one has asked her to do it. (Ask her how she got sucked into the Red Cross’s system…just ask her. Nothing has ever jeopardized our friendship the way the Red Cross’s phone canvassing did.)
The last time I went to Vermont, pre-dying-mother, Alicia went with me. She took time off of work, bought a ticket, and undertook the ridiculously long flight from DC to Burlington (I miss you, Independence Air) just to humor me. Or maybe because she heard the despair in my voice when I considered spending time with my family and explaining, yet again, why I was there alone and why I was missing so many Christmases when we’d said we’d alternate family holidays.
It helped that she had a sister in college up there. I felt less guilty for dragging her where cell phone signals go to die when we figured out a way for her to see her family, too.
We spend a lot of time laughing. We cry sometimes. We know that offending one another is pretty much impossible…because we totally would have done it by now. Somehow, she knows who’s who in my family and which farflung friend is which.
When I left Mike, she offered a place to stay (for either of us), a puppy to cuddle, a ride anywhere…and she helped me paint my new home. She didn’t judge or take sides or interrogate me. She just, as always, took care of me however she could and stood watch, having no agenda beyond wanting me to be happy.
They say the best friends are the ones who help you move or pick you up at the airport. Whoever “they” are, they have never met Alicia. If they knew her and had the honor of being her friend, they would have a much, much higher standard.