Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Friends with Benefits

Over 20 years ago, I was the new girl in school. Middle School. In the middle of my 7th grade year- as if that year isn't a bundle of fun anyhow- we picked up and moved from Ohio to Colorado. It felt like everyone knew each other and again, I was the odd girl out. I don't know if it helped or didn't help that just a couple years prior to that we had moved across town in Toledo- I had already gone through being the new kid. As I learned- moving across the country and moving across town really is all the same difference when you are a kid and have to switch schools.

A few months after I got settled in Colorado, I was sitting in class chatting with my new friends and in walks a new girl. I so remember that feeling- the eyes on you, the whispers and then the one person who reaches out to say hi. For me that person was Addie. The sweetest, friendliest bundle of fun you could ever meet.  So I smiled and introduced myself.  And that is how I met Jaime. With an AI not an IE.

Jaime moved from Pittsburgh and well, when you are in Colorado- Pittsburgh and Toledo are like next door neighbors. She was easy to talk to and school chats led to weekends hanging out, to movies and talking about boys. Jaime's mom terrified me- she was a teacher and had a no nonsense approach to all humans under the age of 18. After a few months, she was my second mom. Her relationship with her dad was like mine and my dad's and he came from an Irish Catholic family- just like me. Her big sister Kellie became my big sister.  In high school, Jaim decided to try out this program called IB- International Baccalaureate- it was good for colleges and had an emphasis on second languages. She already had a leg up as they regularly spoke Spanish at home. Well that meant I was totally going to have to try this IB program. Months later Jaim abandoned me in the IB program for the AP program. Something I may not have been able to forgive, except while in the IB program Jaime dated this kid Phil Mallory. I did not like this Phil Mallory oh no I did not. I thought he was a bit of a jerk and a big shot.  Well Jaime convinced me he wasn't and we spent many after school hour watching baseball or football games featuring Phil Mallory.  It didn't work out between them. But fortunately for me it was an amicable split, because that Phil Mallory became my life line and entertainment for the rest of high school.

Jaime was there through Bob's cancer and her home was one of my refuges. Baking cookies, her mom yelling at us to clean up the mess. Years later, her mom's secret scone recipe was gifted to me- and our family tradition of Scone Sunday was born.  Their home often representing the normal family  life I missed. When dad died the week before graduation, Jaime's family made sure I was included in the celebration since all of our party planning resources had been dedicated to planning funerals.

Jaime and Kellie mentored me in spanish when I decided to spend a summer in Honduras. Which is to say I listened to them speak. Kellie even made me a mix tape to listen to on my journey. Years later, a resident of Las Vegas- Kellie was the only reason as a newly married wife- I was comfortable with all the trips to Vegas. I received more than one tactful conversation from a concerned military wife who mentioned Phil may be spending a lot of time with someone in Vegas. Much relief ensued after much laughter when I explained she was family. We were at CU together and Jaime held my hair back on more than one occasion and was my wingman when Phil showed up with spare AF cadets for weekend visits.

Jaime and Kellie were there to celebrate when I married that Phil Mallory- despite paltry notice and busy schedules. Jaime helped decorate for my first baby shower. Her parents became abuelos for my kids- always sending treats and cards. Kellie housed us an our bird flu episode on our great journey to the Aloha state. Every trip home to Colorado meant a visit with Jaime. It truly was a family reunion when Dr. Jaime married Dr. Right, all of us floating around a lazy river in the hot Arizona sun.   Jaime and Alvaro got more than one panicked call from me- Phillip swallowed a screw- what do I do? Do you think I should Vbac or just C-section, again? Lily has Cancer Jaim- what do we do?   It was Jaim who told me to get off the damn computer, stop researching and go be a mom.  When I traveled to Colorado after my mastectomy- she plied my kids with marshmallows, chocolate, graham crackers and fire- while Alvaro and I discussed the finer aspects of reconstructing.

Jaime has been telling me for years to get my ovaries out. I trust her. I know it needs to be done. There is nothing better than having a good friend who is a doctor looking out for your best interests when you have LFS. You get the benefits of knowledge and friendship. She's been telling me for years when I schedule the surgery- she'll be there.  Months ago I kept getting patient email reminders.  She knows when tough love is needed.  So when I finally scheduled the surgery, I shouldn't have been surprised that the next email I got from her was an itinerary.  I have to say having her here might be the only thing that's getting me through this. Part of me isn't sure that I've been a good enough friend to deserve her or her family- I know they have been through many tough times and I haven't been any support.  But I am grateful. I am so glad that 20 some years ago I took a chance a smile at the new girl because she has made such a huge difference in my life.

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Lily Kay Monkey

Lily Kay Monkey
November 2008 Photographed by Shelley Detton (7 Layer Studio)