March 16, 2011

Two Peas in a Defective Pod

Dear Mom,

Flashback to sorority life, circa 2009. Sisters get recruited, they pledge, participate, get initiated, participate some more, and then graduate. Meanwhile, this cycle continuously repeats itself each semester to keep the sisterhood consistant in number and quality. While we're recruiting new people, it's not uncommon to meet many fabulous, charming young women. It is uncommon, however, for them to be 100% real when they come to our events (I mean, who honestly wears a sundress, pearls, 5-inch heels, and make-up to perfection day in and day out?). For the most part, it's a week filled with awkward giggles, forced smiles, and hours of small talk, and yet we love every minute of it because eventually, someone comes along who makes it all worthwhile.

'J' is that girl for me (don't worry-- still totally straight-- this isn't a 'coming out of the closet' post or anything!). She is always her kind, down-to-Earth self and never goes out of her way to impress anyone because being who she is does that all on its own. She is respectful, smart, and worldly (literally, she's traveled abroad more times than I've been to Wal-Mart practically, which is a lot). She is just stunning in appearance, yet her inner beauty radiates even brighter somehow. Despite the laundry list of desirable traits she posesses, it's what came before the passport, fluent Spanish-speaking skills, and preparations for her first triathalon this summer that truly caught my attention. It was something that makes most people uncomfortable, yet made me reach out.

It was when she said, "My dad died of cancer too."

Immediately after accepting her bid to the sorority, she asked me how to join the Relay for Life committee on campus and what she could do to help us out. It was the night of the event that we had our first real talk about our losses. She told me that her family installed a huge aquarium in the cancer wing of the hospital when he died because he said the hallways were too boring, and that each fish represents a member of her family. I told her that I stood in front of that same fish tank more times than I can count while making phone calls, clearing my head, or silently crying and feeling so alone. How many times did I run my fingers over that plaque engraved with his name? I never would have thought that I would meet his daughter, welcome her into my sorority, become her friend, and eventually, ask her to be my roommate.

This similarity between us hasn't fused a supersonic friendship that defies all odds and keeps us inseperable; she's still taking classes, I work all day; she travels for hours on the weekends to see her boyfriend, I stay in right town; she has a close group of friends in the area, mine have graduated and moved away (like she plans to in a few months). We are still very different, and surprisingly, there have been few nights where we've stayed up late talking about you and her dad, but when we do, I am reminded of just how special our friendship is to one another.

One night in particular, between hours of mindless DVR'd television, in our pajamas, all wrapped up in blankets while we sprawled out in the living room, she told me about her dad's final days alive. She said she had only ever told one other friend that. I can't even begin to tell you how that made me feel-- and not even in the "wow, I rock!" kind of way, but in the "that must have been so freeing for her" kind of way.

J has helped me to incorporate you into my every day life. Living with her has allowed me to naturally bring up your name in a casual conversation or mention a memory that you're a part of without feeling awkward. Every time she says, "Oh! My dad _______" it reminds me of how important our pasts are and how much they have shaped our futures.

Last night, J and I went to the movies. We made a pit stop at a gas station to buy some snacks in order to avoid the overpriced bags of popcorn at the theater. She picked out a bag of Cheez Doodles, and I nonchalantly mentioned the story about how much you loved them. I told her how I would sneak you some when you were really sick and on a liquid diet. During that time, you had a tube connected to your stomach leading to a bag propped up on the floor, so within minutes I'd see orange clumps forming. We'd laugh, and I'd help squeeze them down into the bag before Dad came back into the room.

J laughed too at my memory of us, and then thought a little more about what I said. "Wait. How did she get nutrients?"

I looked over at her, and like I was truly realizing it for the first time (because that's almost what it felt like in that moment to say it outloud), I responded, "...She didn't."


I thought, way to be a buzzkill Sami. You even made the girl with the deceased dad clam up.

"Well," she quickly interrupted my internal dialoge, "my dad started having us sneak him spicy chicken sandwiches from Wendy's!"

And just like that, we laughed all the way to the register.

It's so refreshing to have a friend like her.

I love you (more than you love Cheez Doodles),

1 comment:

  1. You & J are lucky to have each other. I too met a friend who had lost her dad shortly after my mom died, and we bonded in a way that would have been unlikely in the absence of our shared tragedy. I'm so glad you have J!