I received a card in the mail recently from the mom of one of my childhood friends. In the card were a number of photos from when I was little, along with some correspondence I had sent to her daughter over the years. Flipping through the old (Polaroid!) photos was sweet, and in many of them, we were standing next to each other holding hands.
Sunny and I had a lot of fun living next door to each other. Summertime was the best, and every year we’d slip into the same daily routine. I would sit by the phone in the morning, and wait until it was 9 am (I had to wait until 9 am, according to my mom). At 9:01 I would call her on the phone to see if she could play. She always said yes. I’d walk over to her house, and we’d find something to do. Eventually, though, drama would appear over something completely non-dramatic. Nine times out of ten, she’d get angry, I’d get defensive, and she’d tell me to leave. Most of the time, we’d find each other later in the day and keep playing as if nothing had happened. Sometimes, though, we wouldn’t talk until the next day. I’d sulk around my house, fuming that she should call and apologize… but by morning, I always caved in. Like clockwork, at 9:01 I would call and ask if she wanted to play. She always said yes.
Our friendship mirrored our summers – up and down, but always solid. Life’s events would take us to different cities, but we never lost touch. I loved her as if she was my sister.
Sunny died in 2014 of colon cancer. Her diagnosis had taken everyone by surprise, and while she lived longer than predicted, she still died much too soon.
I remember when Sunny was first diagnosed with cancer. We spent long hours on the telephone talking about all of the various tests involved or the many doctors she could bring onto her treatment team. Sometimes we’d talk about her frustration, fear, and uncertainty, but we always talked about our endless summers together. There were so many stories to laugh about, but there were also lingering unexplained hurts. We talked about it all. I always thought Sunny liked to argue, and was surprised to learn that she didn’t. In fact, she shared that she usually felt badly after I went home, worried I wouldn’t call again to play. But, I always did.
Message of the Day: While relationships may change over time, some friendships really will last a lifetime. The ones that do are bound by trust and honesty. I miss my friend, but find her daily by retelling our stories over and over and over…