November 10, 2014

She probably didn't think I noticed

Last week, I had an opportunity to spend time with a faraway friend.

We originally met online several years ago as we both were looking for freelancers to collaborate with. The writer and the graphic artist met and became friends, then colleagues. We worked on a few projects together and then due to the nature of our work, life got in the way of our collaborations. We still were working, but coordinating that work in the same place and time became cumbersome and our careers moved forward, albeit separately, not as a team. 

We still would touch base from time to time, seeing how the other was doing, but our contact was superficial and tangential. Then this past June, I sent her a note. I mentioned how much I missed our conversations. 

We haven't touched base in a while, but I thought it would be nice to catch up. You're on my mind from time to time and I wonder how life is going. I cannot believe our emails go back 5 years, it seems like yesterday we took that spring break trip to visit you. I hope you're well.
June 18
6/18, 3:03pm
Well at the moment not so great... dealing with possibly having breast cancer. Should have a better idea in the next few days just what is ahead... surgery... or surgery and chemo. So that's my deal for right now.
Distract me dear friend with what has been going on with you?

That conversation quickly became a diagnosis. She has Stage 4 inflammatory breast cancer that has spread. She may only have a year of life. Or 13 (the years of the person she met who has survived the longest). Or more. But the diagnosis is clear. It's an ugly cancer and it's tough to beat.

But what do strong women do when they hear that? They plan a trip with friends. Or at least that is what my friend did. She asked me if I wanted to go see Wicked. So completely on impulse, the two of us combing the internet for discounts, she got us a fantastic room overlooking Times Square with a Priceline bid and I was able to find fabulous discounts on theater tickets. The rest of it was left to chance and energy. We knew better than to plan a million things, taking fatigue into account.

I drove in and my friend took the train. We arrived within an hour of each other and commenced on our merry-making. We did all the things that friends do when they have a limited amount of time together and that time is in NYC.

We went for cocktails at The View, a rotating restaurant 48 floors up from the city. It was so elegant and touristy. I loved our ever-changing view of the city.

There is lot of things that happened between the start of our time away and the end. But I want to highlight something I don't think my friend knew I saw.

We had tickets to see Wicked. The energy and enthusiasm surrounding our evening was evident. We were looking forward to the night and all it would bring. I never realized it would bring a moment of honest clarity such as this.

We were in the restroom and as is typical of NYC, the restrooms have attendants. As my friend was leaving, she slipped the attendant a $20 bill. It was subtle. I barely noticed but I do admit to looking and catching that moment.

She didn't say a word. That wasn't what it was about. In fact, it isn't why I'm writing this post, to be honest. I wanted to point out to anyone who reads this... no matter WHAT your situation is, it improves exponentially when you consider another person. We had a great visit. We didn't focus on the unpredictable, but instead focused on our friendship and time together.

When she didn't think I noticed, I remembered all the reasons I love my friend. She is generous and loving. She thinks of others. She had a moment to do something random and kind for someone else and grabbed it. She wasn't about glory or recognition. As I said, she probably didn't even see that I saw.

She just knows that when you can do something that makes another person's life better you should take that opportunity.

Thank you for being my friend, Holli.

I love you and I love our friendship. You're a special person and I am so grateful you're in my life.


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