It is 1995 in an affluent PA suburban middle school. A lot of the kids are wearing the latest in fashion, have mature hair cuts from fancy salons and an attitude to match. If you don't have their type of money and live in the big houses, you are either completely ignored or picked on.
Fortunately for me I stayed in the latter group: I had a few friends here and there and got along with most people, but I was quiet and kept my head buried in a book. I was overlooked by them and was happy with it. I sported my matching sweatshirt/sweat pants outfits from Kmart comfortably and was neither hated nor popular.
As I began my 8th grade year, a new girl moved into the district. She was in my gym class and showed up sporting a cast on her arm (huh...maybe it was her leg...crap where did my memory go?). She really couldn't do much in the way of participating and so when it came time to pick our teams for the gymnastics portion (by 1995 the area was already spiraling down the sue happy tunnel and so gymnastics went from a fun few weeks of balance beams and rings and learning real stuff, to messing about with ribbons and dancing) of the class we ended up together. And that my friends is the best day of my 8th grade year and beyond.
We became fast friends. She didn't care what anyone wore, or did with their hair or where they lived. She was fun, absolutely hysterically funny and had the biggest heart of anyone I had ever met. She was goofy and a lot of people made fun of her, but I didn't care. I had found my best friend.
We stayed thick as thieves all through high school. She became the school mascot (wore the whole Tiger outfit and everything) and tagged along with the band and I got involved in the outdoors group and learned how to whitewater canoe and camp and hike. Yet we still hung out all the time. Her birthday is in September so she could drive first and even though my house was the complete opposite direction, she came and picked me up and took me home from school a lot of the days. We hung out before class and joined track together where she did the jumping and I the sprinting.
It was one of those amazing friendships that didn't rely on being in all the same classes, sports teams and groups. We each did our own thing and still found time to be with each other and always had solid familiar ground.
She went off to college and I stayed home to commute. We lost touch for a couple years and then when she left school and moved back home we hooked up again. That summer was amazing. We did everything together. She was always ready to have a good time and laugh and just be silly. She worked hard and always had at least one full time job. She turned 21 first and we drifted away a bit again as she hit the bars and such that 21 year olds do and I couldn't. Then I went off the Rome for a semester abroad and turned 21 myself.
I remember filling out one of those stupid email questionnaires about yourself pre-Facebook era. You know, the ones that ask a hundred questions like favorite color, pets, band etc...? Well, one asked my favorite band. She must have read the whole thing and when I landed back Stateside, she was waiting with tickets to my favorite band to celebrate my 21st birthday that she missed cuz I was gone. Even though we hadn't talked in months. She was that type of friend.
Anyway...I could go on and on and on about Christy. We floated in and out of each others lives a good bit over the years. I got married and moved to school then residency then work. She got married and made a wonderful life.
Except for one thing.
At the age of 26 instead of working towards a fancy career or building a family or traveling or climbing the highest mountains in the world and all the other things people do in their late 20s, Christy was diagnosed with colon cancer.
She kept up her signature smile, bright eyes and undaunting capacity to love, be loved and find joy in everything even through surgeries, radiation and chemotherapy. Cancer didn't stand a chance. She won.
A few years later it came back in her liver. She won again.
A couple years later and it returned with friends. In her lungs. Everywhere.
Christy is now 33 and has spent the last 7 years fighting. While she has fought she has participated in raising awareness for Colon Cancer and became a model for the Colonder. She ran in 5ks, became a Beach Body trainer and filled everyone's life with love and happiness. She also has travelled with her husband and seen places she always wanted to, like Ireland. She really is that special.
She has spent too much time fighting and she is very sick right now. She is in the fight for her life and there are only minimal things that can be done to help. Radiation and surgery are out. Only chemotherapy is left.
So please....everyone out there say a prayer if that is your thing. Or send hope and love. Keep her in your thoughts.
And don't take a single second for granted. Don't focus on a tiny, insignificant negative thought and let it ruin a great day. Enjoy your horse. Enjoy your freedom. Enjoy your health.