I just got back from a wonderful morning with my best friend, her daughter and my youngest son at the aquarium.
That term best friend is a tricky one. You can have good friends, even great friends. I know I’m in the majority here, but I think you can even have more than one best friend. Typically though if I’m speaking of my best friend, I’m speaking of Alicia. We started working together several years ago. We both taught two year olds so we had no choice, but to at least pretend to like each other. Turns out we actually enjoyed each other’s company. We enjoyed each other’s company so much that after we both quit our jobs to be stay at home moms, we stayed friends.
Over the course of the last few years my friend has been put through the ringer. I mean seriously! She struggled to get pregnant. She got pregnant and had a baby 9 weeks early who spent 5 months in the hospital. Her daughter is now three and is doing well, despite a few special needs. Alicia gets very little time for herself because her whole world revolves around her thriving, but fragile child. This past year she lost her Dad unexpectedly. He was young, very young. He had health problems, but he was the true patriarch of her family. Her life hasn’t been the same since that day. Through all this trial she has always been a beacon of light to not only me, but countless others, even strangers. She’s been a part of and even headed several ministries who have gone to downtown Covington and served those in need. She has literally fed the hungry and clothed the naked. She has made an impact in the lives of complete strangers and also in mine.
My best friend is the type of person who celebrates a woman getting pregnant with her fourth boy as if the child to be is the second coming. She was one of the few people who never made a sly comment about how I secretly wanted a girl. She did and still does joke about the amount of hand me downs I would have been given, had my son been a daughter. Alicia has a very well dressed child. She threw me and my son an elaborate baby shower and showed up at the hospital with a gift in hand when he was born. Her and her husband became his Godparents last Spring and they were thrilled for the role. She loves my older boys too and finds ways to make them individually feel special.
My best friend and I are not all that similar. She’s admittedly socially awkward and I could probably be taken hostage and become friends with the person holding me there. My best friend has never, ever drank alcohol and I have been known to kill a few beers in my day. My best friend is the type of person who jumps in the air, dances and sings praises to the Lord with the voice of an angel when she worships. Meanwhile my voice is somewhere between baby goat and 12 year old boy in the thick of his voice changing. I’m also far too concerned that I could look dumb if I worship too hard for any kind of jumping, but I do dance a bit when the spirit moves me. My best friend LOVES Christmas, I mean year round she does. It’s pathetic. The girl put a tree up on Halloween this past year. She’s crazy! I’m not Scrooge (in her eyes, I might be), but I am not getting crazy festive until December. She loves to shop. I only shop when absolutely 100% necessary. My best friend likes to craft and I like to buy her crafts. She likes to bake and create elaborate cakes and I like to eat them. She can draw really, really well. Her 3 year old probably draws better than I can.
We have many differences, but we have common ground. We’re mothers, we love God, we have husbands who equally annoy and delight us. We have had some similar highs and lows in our lives. We love kids, even enough to work for barely minimum wage in a preschool. We like to laugh and we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We both love the Backstreet Boys, Olive Garden and roller coasters among many other things.
My best friend has a way of making people feel good about themselves. She’s the person you want to talk to when your life is in shambles and you’re hopeless. Alicia always has hope and a plan. She’s organized to a fault and she means business when things need to get done. She loves God. This girl loves God like no one else I have ever met. She loves him through storms and during rainbows. She loves him with every fiber of her being. He gets the glory, always!
One day when I was especially depressed the winter my knee was severely injured and I was feeling sorry for myself she told me I was mad at God. To that, I wanted to argue with her. She stopped me and said, “It’s ok, you can be mad. God is big enough to handle you being mad at him. You have to admit that you’re mad, but then give it over to him. It’s the only way you’re going to make it.” She was right, like she is majority of the time. Alicia knows her God. She knows him like a best friend and I strive to know him on that level.
A couple weeks ago Alicia ended up in the emergency room afraid she was having a stroke. Turns out she had Bells Palsy. Bells Palsy is sudden weakness in the muscles on one side of the face. It can be painful and it’s incredibly annoying. Not to mention half your face is limp. Your smile is a half smile. You can only taste with one side and your eye dries up because you don’t blink. It seems pretty miserable. However it’s the holidays. Nothing will stop her when it comes to cooking a huge thanksgiving meal, Black Friday shopping and celebrating Christmas! We joked today about how she’ll look back on pictures and this will be the Christmas season half her face was limp.
I had a great day with her, today. Both of our kids were fools at different times during the day and we laughed about it. I’m sure strangers judged us. I know it will come as a shock that a one year old and three year old didn’t go the whole day without throwing a fit or two. At one point today, Alicia had to climb up into the jungle gym at the aquarium because her daughter managed to get up there, but couldn’t find a way back down. I meanwhile had to stop Asher from photobombing someone’s picture with Scuba Santa. Again, I’m sure strangers were judging us.
They took our picture upon arriving at the aquarium, looking at them when we left I had to get one. Even though Alicia may not look the way she wants, her daughter was happy as a clam in the photo. Asher looked a bit overwhelmed at the magnitude of the aquarium and I was trying to make my forced smile not looked so forced. We both bought the picture to have a physical keepsake of this chaotic, but fun and memory filled day. Like I had told her earlier, someday we’ll look back on the Bells Palsy holiday and laugh at how goofy she looked.
Hey Alicia, thanks for this day and for the days that turned into years leading up to it and for the days that will turn into years to follow.