A couple of weeks ago, I posted about my hobby of collecting Awesome People, and thought it was worth having a little bit of a recurring series sharing things about some of the Awesome People in my collection. This week, I start with one of the best people I have ever been blessed with – my best friend Heidi.
My mother and father had three children – my older brother Tim, my younger brother Philip, and me. Growing up in a houseful of brothers, there was nothing I wanted more than a sister. When my mom was expecting Philip, I remember hoping that he would be a baby sister….but the coin toss went the other way and he was an awesome enough kid that my parents decided they didn’t need another one so no biological sister for me…but I’ve sort of been collecting other sisters along the way for years.
Heidi was my very first acquired sister. We met in roughly January of 1983, when she and her mom moved to Pacific after the Meramec River flood of late 1982. She started 2nd grade at Zitzman elementary, in the classroom next to mine. I really can’t remember the first day I met her, but I do know that it didn’t seem to take much time at all before we were thick as thieves. It’s truly hard for me to remember my life before Heidi.
While I don’t remember what originally made Heidi and I become friends, we stayed friends largely because of common interests. Both of us took dance, sang in choir, did school band, were cheerleaders in Junior High, and both were pretty smart cookies who made good grades in all our classes. Normal schoolgirl stuff through and through.
As sometimes happens with girls, we went through periods when we did not get along at all. There were times in junior high and high school when each of us would have said we loathed the other – but truthfully, neither of us ever hated the other. In fact, we have always loved each other to pieces, and only claimed otherwise when circumstances (mostly Normal Teenage Girl BS, but also some factors such as adults interfering where they shouldn’t) made us feel rejected by the other. Given that rejection is the Worst Thing In The World to a young girl, and that the more you love someone the worse rejection seems, we certainly had some good drama in those days. By late in high school, the Normal Teenage Girl BS mostly wore off, and for over 20 years we’ve proudly called each other Best Friend.
One of the most special things Heidi does is write letters. Since we left high school, we have pretty much never lived in the same time zone. She joined the US Coast Guard when we were in our early to mid 20s, and there aren’t a heckuva lot of opportunities for Coasties to hang out in the St. Louis or Kansas City areas where I’ve lived my adult life. So she took to writing letters, by hand, at least once a month. And you know what? I’m not much of a letter writer so I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve responded in kind. And yet, she still writes me. And one of the happiest things in my whole life is when I open my mailbox to find an envelope with her handwriting.
If you ask my why I like Heidi, I could tell you a number of great attributes about her – she is smart, caring, loving, and funny. But that doesn’t really begin to explain why we are so close – it’s just a list of adjectives. But the reason why we are BFFs, honestly, is because she is one of the very, very small number of people who have shown me unconditional love in my life. Other than my parents and my husband, I can’t think of anyone who has really ever made me feel that way, and who I have loved unconditionally as I do Heidi. And boy howdy, she deserves it. She stood up at my wedding, she lets me be part of her daughter’s life, and she is one of a very, very small number of people who truly are able to comfort me when the really bad stuff happens. I have always had a rule that I don’t share beds with anyone but a romantic partner, but she made the cut and stayed in my room with me in the days after Andy died because I knew I could cry my heart out and fall asleep and she’d be there to soothe me.
There are a million more fantastic reasons that I could share about why Heidi is wonderful, but I’m not sure anyone would enjoy reading about it – so I’ll just say this. If you find one friend in an entire lifetime that can be as good to you as Heidi is to me, then you are very lucky. And if you find that one friend when you are eight years old and keep him or her forever, you are immeasurably rich.
Love you, my sister. ❤