My best friends today are the best friends I had when I was 12 and when I was 16. My beloved Gwen, was my first close friend in Grand Blanc, and we did everything together! We would call each other as soon as we got off the bus and say "Let's meet in the middle." Which meant, the road in between our houses. It was also the perfect way for me to spy on my first real crush, which lasted for years (you know who I'm talking about, Mike Agnone :)) Gwen and I posed for pictures together, at Sears, in eighth grade holding crayons and then did it again our senior year of high school with my head laying on top of her head. We've tailgated together, gone through break ups together, cried together but laughed even more. Gwen is my friend that traveled five hours to celebrate my 30th birthday with me at dinner and then drove four hours out of her way after my surgery in October and came in and gave me my first "butt hug" - she just hugged my butt, knowing that a regular hug is pretty hard on my chest for me. We snuck out together in high school and still relieve our glory days of our freshman year when we thought we were so cool because we were dating juniors. Gwen is my soul mate - we are so different in so many ways but she's that person I talk to irregularly, but everything is the exact same when I see her.
|Gwen, turning 30 and fabulous with her boyfriend Alan. Me, five months pregnant and sober. But we loved making the trip to Chicago to celebrate Gwen!!|
Then have my high school friends, Katie and Lacey. Most people know that a "Group of 3" typically doesn't work out with women, because someone always feels left out. But in this case, it's been the three of us so long, that we've always made it work. We've taken many road trips together (or really, just Lacey and I traveling to wherever Katie is), singing our way up to Harbor Springs, or hiking the mountains in Colorado. I remember we climbed on top of this giant rock and when we were done admiring the view, Katie and Lacey jumped right off. I was way too scared to jump and just stayed up there on the top. Katie and Lacey kept encouraging me to come down, telling me I could do it, all the while almost peeing their pants because they were laughing so hard. When Lacey got engaged and Katie and I got the phone call, we immediately rushed over to her house to celebrate with Lacey and Ben. When Katie got engaged, Lacey and I were texting her like crazy asking for pictures of the ring and couldn't wait to start planning her bridal shower, bachelorette party, and 30th birthday. Whenever I've had a problem, they are the first two I call...even though Katie knows I've probably made a stop to the book-store since I'm convinced a self-help book can solve many things. On the day of my diagnosis, Katie and Lacey showed up in my house full of boxes with flowers and wine and continued to make regular appearances during my journey. I love them like crazy and can't wait to see what our next fifteen years of friendship brings.
|Celebrating Katie's wedding in September. I wore my long hair so I could get fancy for her big day. It is so wonderful to see both of my closest friends with their soul mates.|
|Katie and Lacey, coming out to run the 5K Susan G Komen race in September 2011.|
Then there are the friends that I knew were my friends, but have turned into such jewels during this tough year for me. Meghan Harsevoort, Katie's sister, is such an important person in my life. It makes sense that if I adore Katie so much, I would love her sister equally as fast, since they are so similar! But it was great to spend my maternity leave visiting with Meghan, watching our babies grow bigger together (Evan is 4 weeks older than Gracie) and be able to talk about the challenges of a blended family. My other pregnant partner-in-crime, Lisa Roberts became my go-to; we would laugh and we would think, "How on earth did we get here?" But Lisa's little Mattie is healthy and Lisa is so kind to me while always making me smile. Plus, she made me Wife of the Year by getting the UM jersey signed by Denard. It is hanging prominently in our "Michigan room" (yes, we have one). Then there is my dear friend Nancy, who has had such a challenging year herself but always makes a point to send me an e-mail or make an effort to get together. When we had lunch this summer, I laughed just as hard as I used to when we shared a tiny cubicle together! There are my old work friends, like Ismeta and Jen and Sherry and Teddi who I hear from regularly. With my diagnosis, came the biggest smorgasbord of Bosnian food from Ismeta - making all of my favorites including her world famous bread. Teddi organized a Relay for Life event with all Fifth Third associates and together they raised over $4000 for Team Murray. And Sherry and Jen have been so supportive through e-mails and prayers.
|Evan and Gracie, best friends. I wish Evan would adopt Gracie's good habits. Like sleeping.|
|My two favorite sisters, Katie and Meghan. They brought over fantastic dinners and applesauce right after my surgery.|
|Sherry and me in 2009 at Melanie's wedding.|
|Ismeta, Keri's husband, Sherry, me, Brian, Jen and her husband Brent - that was a fun night!|
Finally, there are my new work friends that have turned into family. My Central Michi team, although disbanded is one of the closest teams I have ever been a part of. Stacey, Laura and Courtney are my special family and even though four women in charge can be challenging, we worked through all of our obstacles together to produce an outstanding leadership group. I will never forget the look on Laura's face when Stacey talked about bringing her cat to Office Day. I will also never forget the pride in Stacey's face when we finally got Laura to use foul language. All of our meeting consisted of a "good conversation with a good deck" and a white board to keep track of our 76 ideas running at the same time. Even the tough days could be solved with a glass of wine, "Bob skippity bo bop, I lost it" - Stacey talking to the parking attendant after Court, Stacey and I indulged in a huge Italian dinner. We learned about Coppertones, Q-tips, nicknamed Scotty-Poo and enjoyed every BC visit to Howell, which meant a trip to the outlets after work. Then there are friends like Jill, my new teammate who is so supportive of me taking the time I need to recover even though it means she is carrying part of my workload (along with Laura and Chad). I'm so appreciative of them picking up for me so I can truly take time to heal and work on getting Evan better.
|Court, as Mrs. Peacock and Stacey and me as Mrs. White to celebrate Courtney's 30th Clue birthday party.|
There are many many other friends involved and those that reach out to me. My mom's friends alone, deserve their own day of appreciation - so that is coming soon. But if it takes a village, my friends have certainly helped me get to this point along the way.