"HEY.... Timmy .... what are you doing here?" she laughs when she talks so imagine a great big smile, resembling mine with a sparkle in her eyes and lots of gums.... she nodded at him and then said she would be "checking on us later..."
I smiled and they wheeled me into the next chapter of my life....
It was 1985 and this was my first son, April 17th.... "Shane."
I forgot all about her , for a minute, but she didn't forget about me... Timmy and the impending baby. She checked back in on us , to find out ...we were gone... to another hospital, med-flight.
She got back in touch, she looked us up , to find out what happened with her tiny - more than healthy- son , Jordan.
We left the hospital in a hurry.... I was determined to go hold my baby before it was too late...that day turned into weeks, weeks into months and, thankfully, months into a couple of years. My girl...Denise and I developed a relationship then...during those couple of years that our sons would play together and then my daughter was born ...and quickly became a mainstay in their lives and them in ours.
She was one "hot mess" and I was also a "hot mess" but for differing reasons. Her story....was one of learning from her mistakes in life, in love, with children and with friends. She was close friends with my husband's ex-wife which was very intertwined but my girl, Denise, didn't realize how intertwined until much later.
We were friends for years. We were friend through many tears. We were never "BFF" but we were true friends. We shared stories and children and experiences and even ideas. We had many of the same interests and even though we lived in different counties, we spoke on the phone often and did things together from time to time.
She went through a ton of drama in the time I knew her...I would need a book to recount it all. The short of it is..that a lot of learning and a lot of unbelievable events that many of us never go through in a lifetime she went through in her young life. It had all the makings of a best selling novel that one makes into a movie ...and all the while ...her amped up mania for life , her kids, her quests her future .... turned into a passion for horses.... equine therapy.... something that no one could take from her and above all could be the answer ...the answer to her ever evolving way to kick life's ass ....right back ...because after all ...life kicked her ass for years....
There was so much that I had to "stay away" from that she initiated in her life because I couldn't walk that line quite like she could. .. the things that she dealt with in her life that made me shy away... that made me cringe at the thought ...were like gasoline to Denise - powering her or empowering her to carry on... ...and then when she lit things on fire and watched them burn.... she smiled that smile and moved on ... while I would be sifting through the ashes - looking for some soot to hang on too, she put on her wading boots , kicked some ashes ...and moved on... to the next thing.
While we were so different our common ground crossed each other more than once! I even wrote this blog post , all in jest...about how our daughters made fun of us... on their common ground. Read "what not to wear" HERE for a tiny bit more insight into the fun we had ! (2009)
It never really stopped. The entire time we were friends there was always some sort of thing..that happened to her that most of us may just "give up" ...and quit fighting because of ... but no... Denise never did...she kept hanging on with her white knuckles her crazy whimsical adventures and her quest to "make it" agains the tides that tried to drown her more than once.
It was through Denise that I learned it was OK to "not" talk to family members. She went a few years not speaking to certain family members and each at a different stage in her life. One family member was so very close to her that I could not swallow the fact that they didn't speak for a while at all. I asked her about the circumstances and how she could just go for a very long time without speaking to or seeing her family member. Her response not only surprised me but taught me something. She said to me that "she was more hurt by her family member because that was one of the few people she didn't expect certain behaviors from". WHAT? how profound is that? I was stopped dead in my tracks. I did see this family member during the time they were not talking because she worked near where I worked, all the while, not ending my relationship with her. That family member never missed a beat in loving her, Denise and yearned to speak to her and to mend those bridges that had broken ... enough so that they did not speak...but not enough for that bridge to be uncrossable. I learned from her a valuable and astounding lesson with that one memorable sentence, which was to answer many questions for me later in life. Coupled with the information I learned in college "never to have expectations from those that you love" I learned .... I learned how things get so confusing in life....
I also learned to quit smoking from Denise. The very same family member I spoke of before , ended up passing away and breaking Denise's heart. She learned what smoking over many years will do to one's lungs and my girl, Denise, who smoked 2 packs of KOOL every day...laid those babies down. I never expected out of all of my friends and family that she would be one to quit. When I quit ...I thought to myself FREQUENTLY ..."if she can quit ...ANYONE can quit." So the old saying that you never know who you may be inspiring comes very quickly to mind, as I am not sure Denise knows about the impact she made on me and my life in either instance.
With Denise, it became clear, that this truly is a small world. The 7 or 6 degrees of separation that people talk about.... felt more like 3.... we had many people, places and things in common. We had lived very different lives in what seemed like opposite ends of the earth and experiences were able to draw on the common things between us rather than the uncommon. I have always had a wide spectrum of friends from many walks of life.... and this was no exception. She was a person always in OVER DRIVE and one of the few people that could work circles around me....sometimes I thought it was because of the caffeine in her Mountain Dew + BC powder + the nicotine.... but.... I found out that I was wrong she is just in HIGH GEAR .. 24/7 and there was never a challenge that overwhelmed her... it was almost as if the bigger the challenge the more successful she was in conquering it.
We found out that our origins ...our roots ...both came from the same teeny tiny town in Northern Louisiana.... Natchitoches Parrish.... I looked into my family's immediate geneology and could not find the connection but it was far enough back (before the college was built) that it is very likely that some blood of hers mixed with some blood of mine. I think she has done even further research as the years have passed...well I know she has ....and not sure she made that connection but the connection that she had with my 2nd -ex! This is very entertaining to me that both of my ex husbands had some connection with her pre- and post our friendship of many many years. Sometime fact is funnier than fiction would ever be! That very same town that I was born in... and my father died in....puts out a semi famous poster out every year. I own a copy of one of the very first posters....signed by an artist ...of her paternal family name.
One of the last times I visited with her I will never forget. I went to her house with my camera in hand. She had two baby equine boys that were in an arena. (her barn / house is a story all in itself, maybe I will have another blog post later) .... I could not wait to photograph them, and her, and her life there so far away from me. When I got there...she had me laughing so hard at everything that I completely forgot to put a card in my Canon put took probably 300 images ...astounding ones at that.... yeah imagine ...getting home and finding out NO CARD ...now thats what I call immersed in my conversation.
Recently, I dreamed of Denise's grandmother, Jean, she came to me in my dreams and told me to remember what she had warned us about , many years ago...in Kmart. I remember being in Kmart, I remember talking to Jean. I don't remember any warnings. I remember her talking about her grandson, Justin. I don't remember her words of warning or I would heed her warning(s).
Through the twists and turns of life...
and the end of my marriage was also ironically the time that she and i...well
.... we moved further apart both figuratively and literally
|MERRY CHRISTMAS ......DENISE <3 td="">3>|
I miss her vivaciousness and infectious energy. I miss learning from her. I miss her kids and their kids and the bonds we once had. I miss her talking about "the secret" and the powers behind the spoken word. (which I find to be truer and truer as the years go by)
I told her a very long time ago before we went on separate paths - that if I ever found myself with money and alone in my golden years , that I would like to buy a piece of land and put all of my old lady friends on it. I would make sure I had plenty of room for her and her horses , if that was to ever really happen, if she doesn't change she would be one fun chick to spend that kind of time with ...
as our suns go down....
That will most likely never happen , but it is fun to think about.