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Forever Friends

Today I decided to write about friendship and specifically about a friendship I have had for decades with a very special friend.

Meet Nancy:

NancyTree

(Summer 2009 picture)

Thirty-one years ago this week, Nancy and I first met when we were assigned seats next to each other in our fourth grade classroom. I am 40 years old. That means I have known Nancy for over 3/4 of my life! Anyway, 31 years ago we were just starting fourth grade. (Bear in mind that my own daughter started fourth grade this week. What an important year 4th grade was in my life has not been lost on me; if my daughter can only be so fortunate as to forge friendships now that will last into her adult years… I will be very happy for her).

Nancy was new to our school. I very quickly realized that I was fortunate enough to have a kind, thoughtful, smart girl in my class. Everyone liked Nancy. She was the kind of girl who got along with everyone. To this day, I am incredibly thankful that out of all of the fourth grade classrooms there were in our school, Nancy wound up in my class and vice-versa.

Foreverfriends1117

Nancy and I soon began getting together outside of school at either her house or mine. Everything was just more fun when I did it with Nancy. Whether we were going over schoolwork, hanging out in her room or mine, watching TV, playing outside, swimming, or something else… I was just very fortunate to have such a sweet, caring, fun friend.

As the years went by, we got to know each other’s families quite well since we spent so much time together. As we got into middle school and high school, time on the phone became significant (much to the dismay of our families, who (as you might imagine) occasionally wanted to use the phone as well… in those days before call waiting). We also spent time having sleepovers and staying up late talking about all sorts of things.

When my endometriosis symptoms began with a vengeance at the age of 13, Nancy’s compassion, listening, and comfort were vital to me and I don’t know what I would have done without her support. Nancy was there.

THISISNOTFUN_endo2-540x1431-540x142

The first time I fainted at age 14 (caused by a combination of heat intolerance and having my period) was a time when Nancy had stayed overnight at my house. My mom was making french toast for breakfast, which was almost ready. Nancy and I were sitting at the kitchen table. I felt nauseous, hot, clammy, and the smell of the french toast cooking was almost more than I could bear. I knew if I didn’t eat, Nancy wouldn’t eat either. (That’s just how Nancy is). So I ate some of it. The kitchen table was right next to a wall. I remember slumping over towards the wall and feeling very strange. That’s the last thing I remember before I fainted. This is just one of countless examples of times that Nancy witnessed some of the medical adventures that started kicking in around that time. Nancy was there.

For so many events, challenges, joys, etc… Nancy was there.

CONCERT2_1203608_good_times

Nancy and I were the kind of kids who followed the rules, stayed out of trouble, and got good grades. We were responsible. Consequently, we were permitted certain privileges such as to attend events like concerts. We didn’t go to concerts to get mixed up in trouble like some people did. We went for the music. Nancy and I saved our money carefully so that when concerts came into town, we were ready. (You’d be surprised how quickly babysitting money adds up if you save up).

At the risk of showing my age (not that I care), I’ll name off some examples of concerts we went to during high school and college years: The Police, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, the Thompson Twins, INXS, the Go-Gos (concert on the beach, dancing on the sand), and the Beach Boys (also on beach, dancing on sand). There were many more but you get the idea that we saw lots of concerts (not to mention a variety of artists).

CONCERT1_934871_music_poster

When I got married, Nancy was there as my maid-of-honor… and she and her now-husband got engaged right after I married my husband.

Nancy_Jeanne_Wedding

1998

I look back now and I realize I haven’t always been as good a listener to Nancy as I should have been. I didn’t mean to take her for granted at all but I am aware that perhaps I haven’t always been as good a listener to her as she has been to me. I have room for improvement in this category.

When Nancy has had her own challenges, including her own chronic illnesses, I have done my best to be there for her.

Unfortunately, Nancy and I live on opposite ends of the country now (New York and Nevada). Needless to say, we don’t see each other often. However, whenever we possibly can… we get together. The pictures on this post of Nancy are from when she was in town this summer. We had a lovely visit. It’s always nice when you can literally pick right up where you left off with someone. No matter how much time passes by between visits, we are always able to pick up where we left off.

I believe that friendship is important to all but that I believe it’s especially important for the chronically ill because having a support network makes a huge positive impact. Do you have one or more “Forever Friends”? Click on comments under this post and tell about your “Forever Friend” story.

How do your friendships give you strength, wisdom, courage, and peace of mind? How do your relationships help you coping with challenges? How do your friendships heal you?

Please remember to post comments with your friendship stories. I would love to hear them.

Finally, I would like to close with a poem for my friend Nancy.

      Next to Nancy

    In the 4th grade when we did meet
    I knew that it was quite a treat
    How lucky that I got a seat
    Next to Nancy

    It was clear to me that Nancy shares
    Also clear she really cares
    She was my first choice working in pairs!
    (No one else even compares)…
    Next to Nancy

    From day one she was so smart
    Plus clearly she had quite a heart
    How lucky that I could start…
    Fourth grade next to Nancy

    Years have passed
    It’s hard to find
    Anyone who is more kind
    How lucky was I?

    Next to Nancy…

    (Summer 2009 picture)

    NancyJeanne_P1010545

    No one could ask for a better friend. I am very fortunate. For over 3 decades, I have had the honor of having Nancy as a friend. Who knew back in 4th grade just how fortunate I was to be seated… next to Nancy?

    Happy 31st year of friendship, Nancy!!


    This post was written by Jeanne at http://chronichealing.com. Copyright © Jeanne — chronichealing.com. All rights reserved.


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    Reading: Forever Friends

    15 comments

    1 ElizabethNo Gravatar { 09.13.09 at 5:17 pm }

    I had wonderful friends when I was young and in high school and then in my twenties, but none of them lasted, whether it be because I gave too much and when I couldn’t b/c of illness they got angry or because of a change in views on life and how to take care of yourself or because I couldn’t go out as much anymore b/c of illness.

    However, there is a happy ending, I have a group of friends – we call ourselves the YaYa’s as we all read the books and ate them up and saw ourselves in them. I met my yaya girls in my late twenties/early thirties when I was going through a hard time and each one in their own way even before we were really close friends, stepped out of their way to help me. And I did the same for them when they needed it. There are 5 of us plus one other added a little later but not friends with all of us so she’s just another special friend of mine and one other yaya. The YaYas range in age from 50′s to 30. Age has never been a barrier for us, we connect, we are supportive, and we are forever. We have many differences but so much in common at our hearts – that friendship and love and support and trust are vitally important.

    Here’s to Susan, Mary, Vicki & Tonya – my YaYa’s and here’s to April as well who all as a group I couldn’t make it without.

    Even when we are apart for long periods of time, when any or all of us are together it is spectacular and special.

    As a present to me, they all, including April, got together and took me to California for my bachelorette weekend a month before I married my husband now in October 2007 – we got married in November. Mary had moved to California a few years earlier.

    We didn’t party or go out and paint the town or whoop it up. We spent the most amazing 3 days together the six of us and every moment was beyond perfect.

    Have a happy hour with Susan, Tonya and Vicki next week, Mary is out of town, but we always get together when she comes in. Because of my illness they move things around so we can be at someone’s house or somewhere I can lie down if I need to or leave, and because driving is hard on me, they fight over who will drive me.

    Much love to the YaYa’s and everybody out there who has such a network.

    I met them later in life, but at the perfect time.

    Elizabeth
    .-= Elizabeth´s last blog ..30 Things About My Invisible Illness You May Not Know =-.

    2 YayaNo Gravatar { 09.13.09 at 5:57 pm }

    I know I’ve told you before, but me and my best friend Jill also met in 4th grade!! I love her!
    .-= Yaya´s last blog ..Reminded =-.

    3 YayaNo Gravatar { 09.13.09 at 5:58 pm }

    PS you look beautiful! In both pictures!
    .-= Yaya´s last blog ..Reminded =-.

    4 JeanneNo Gravatar { 09.13.09 at 11:37 pm }

    Elizabeth,

    I zoomed past the beginning to your happy ending because I just love the happy ending part. You’re talking about the YaYa Sisterhood, right? I never read the books but I saw the movie years ago and I remember it vaguely. I remember Ellen Burstyn being in it and I think she’s an amazing actress. Anyway, that is awesome that you connected with your own “YaYa girls” like that. I’m sure Alicia (aka Yaya) would find this comment interesting. :) She commented right behind you… before I even saw your comment. So, she may not see it since she’s already commented. Anyway, that is wonderful the way you found these women and connected/bonded so strongly. I think it can sometimes be harder to do later on in life like that (as opposed to in childhood). That’s terrific.

    The friendship, love, support, and trust… That’s wonderful!

    Here’s to Susan, Mary, Vicki & Tonya plus April for being great “YaYa girls” to Elizabeth. Isn’t it amazing how effortless it is to pick up where you left off between in-person visits?

    That’s so cool!

    Enjoy your YaYa time! That is beyond awesome that they fight over driving you because they know driving triggers your migraines. That’s smart to get together at someone’s house in case you need to lie down.

    Yes, love to the YaYa women and the beauty of such support networks!

    That does sound like perfect timing… that you were just meant to meet them.

    Thank you so much for sharing your friendship story!

    Jeanne

    5 JeanneNo Gravatar { 09.13.09 at 11:41 pm }

    Alicia,

    Yes, I knew you and Jill had been friends for a really long time. That’s awesome. I know how you feel… I love Nancy too! Is Jill the one who lives in California?

    Jeanne

    P.S. I hope you feel better soon!! I know you aren’t feeling well following your trip this weekend.

    6 JeanneNo Gravatar { 09.13.09 at 11:42 pm }

    Alicia,

    Thank you. You’re so sweet. :)

    Jeanne

    7 AmandaNo Gravatar { 09.14.09 at 3:01 pm }

    Jeanne, what a beautiful post!! I don’t have one particular friend I was ever completely close to like that, but I have several friends who I just “pick up wherever we left off” with and who hold deep places in my heart (and sometimes make it hurt knowing that I don’t get to see them so often!)

    My friend in Italy only lived in my home town for about 3 years and I didn’t know her for the first year or so. I knew very little about her – only that she had come over from France and I would see her quietly sitting whilst those around her talked and assumed she maybe didn’t speak much English. But then one day in woodwork class I noticed she was struggling with trying to saw a piece of wood without using the vice and asked a girl if anyone on her table had shown her how to use it. The response I got was “I don’t know” because nobody really cared – how sad!! So I went over and helped her open the vice (it was jammed stuck). I still didn’t sit next to her for a few months after that but both of us remember that day – I do because I always felt like she was someone I’d like (you know how sometimes you just know these things and can’t say why?) and that was the first time we spoke and she remembered it because, as she told me later, it was the first time she felt she had a friend as the girls she had been put with just ignored her totally… how awful! Anyway… she only lived in my town for 3 years as her parents work for the Salvation Army and they moved around loads (she’s also the main inspiration for me in my love of foreign languages, which is a MAJOR part of my life!!). But we kept in touch and only recently I went out to her wedding in ROME!! How amazing to share that with her, especially as we hadn’t seen each other for 5 years (which is a lot when you’re only 25!!)

    Other friends that mean a lot to me are 3 girls I went to school with (one from age 5, one aged 12 and one aged 15) who have kept in touch despite my travels through uni, one girl’s studies in Africa and another’s au pair work in Switzerland, whilst the other one suffered from losing two very close family members after long battles with cancer (oh how much it hurts to know I was away and unable to do anything to help at those times!!)

    And then of course there are the girls I spent time in Russia with (some of the hardest times in my life – not helped of course by the tablets the drs gave me for my periods which gave me mega mood swings!) Let’s just say that travelling by train for 45 hours, or washing your dirty underwear in a tiny bathroom, or slipping on the tram tracks when lost in a dodgy part of town, or sneaking together to get rid of the greasy food that it about to make you sick without offending your landlady etc really help you to bond. Indeed one girl I am particularly close to since living with her my final year at uni when I was first diagnosed with endo and IBS and she was going through a marriage and emigration to Canada – you can’t go through those sorts of things without getting really close, can you?!

    I have been very blessed in my life and I know it… so many people who mean so much to me as they have been there for me and shared life’s greatest ups and downs with me (oh I must really not forget to mention Tim, of course, who agreed with me when I said I wanted to be friends first before having a closer relationship because I felt it was important to have the base to always fall back on… let’s just say it was crucial last year with the Zoladex, Labryinthitis, his Carpal Tunnel and redundancy, my work stresses etc etc).

    Ok I’m gonna stop now, I could write you a whole book on how much people mean to me lol and still it wouldn’t be enough, all I can hope for is that I have been there and helped and inspired others as much as they have me and then I will know my life was well lived!!
    .-= Amanda´s last blog ..Roma – beautiful, romantic Roma =-.

    8 JeanneNo Gravatar { 09.14.09 at 5:11 pm }

    Amanda,

    Thanks! Yes, it’s tough when geography decreases the opportunity for visits.

    That is great that you kept in touch with your friend from Italy for all this time. It’s too bad the other girls at school weren’t being very helpful to her but it’s great that you stepped in to assist her. I’m sorry the girls she was put with ignored her. It sounds like she has had a major influence on your life. Between your love of languages and you having just gotten engaged when you went to Rome for her wedding…

    I know how much you enjoyed that trip to Rome! That is amazing that you got to be there with her in Italy for her special day. Yes, that 5 years was 1/5 of your life. It must have seemed like forever to go without seeing each other.

    Wow, you really have friends spread over the globe… from Switzerland to Africa to Canada. I’m sorry you were not able to be with the friend who lost family members to cancer. I’m sure she knows you were with her in spirit.

    Oh my… the time you spent in Russia sounds, um, interesting. I am not sure how well I would fare in the circumstances you described. Yes, I can imagine that provided quite a bonding experience. So you’re still in touch with your friend who emigrated to Canada too? It sounds like you need to start accumulating frequent flyer miles. :)

    That’s great that you and Tim established a bedrock of friendship and built upon it. You two have had a lot going on… to be sure. It’s great that you’ve had the time to work through such issues and know that you are well-matched. Have you set a wedding date or not yet?

    You are too cute. It’s wonderful that you have so many friends who mean so much to you and for whom you clearly have such gratitude. Amanda, your positive attitude is always so welcome and refreshing! :)

    Jeanne

    9 EndochickNo Gravatar { 09.15.09 at 12:00 pm }

    That’s great that you have such a wonderful friend that you’ve grown with all these years. I’ve only kept contact with one friend from my youth after I moved, but this one friend was the one I had the most in common with. Everyone thought we were dating, or had dated, but we never did. Our friendship was too close for that. He was like the brother I never had, and I the sister he never had (he had, like, 4 much older brothers). We still keep in touch, but it’s nothing like you and Nancy. I think the relationship between girlfriends is different though. :-)
    .-= Endochick´s last blog ..The new #endo doctor =-.

    10 JeanneNo Gravatar { 09.17.09 at 12:25 am }

    Endochick,

    Sorry for the delay in posting this. I haven’t had a chance to reply to your latest post because it’s pretty loaded but I decided to go ahead and post this reply here in the meantime. That’s awesome that you had such a close male friend. Years ago, before I got married and moved away… I had a male friend that I was really close with. So I understand. He and I don’t keep in touch because his now wife ordered him to stop communicating with his female friends back when they got engaged. He had several female friends that were just that… friends. He just got along well with females because he treated them as equals (as opposed to how some men treat women).

    His fiancee didn’t feel comfortable with it, though. After being close friends for 11 years, this was sad but we respected her wishes even though our relationship was simply a friendship. His mom still runs into my mom in the town they live in and she always says, “say hi to Jeanne”. I miss his family because they were super-nice but “it is what it is”.

    I owe you some blog comments, my dear.

    Jeanne

    11 EndochickNo Gravatar { 09.17.09 at 10:37 am }

    Sorry to hear about you and your guy friend. I worried, at first, that my husband (then my boyfriend) would take my male friend and I’s relationship “the wrong way” but he understood. He had had a really good female friend at one time. My family didn’t help matters though. They always tried to make it seem like there was more to it than there was. There never was of course. Sometimes people of the opposite sex can be just friends.
    .-= Endochick´s last blog ..The post where things aren’t going well… =-.

    12 JeanneNo Gravatar { 09.17.09 at 11:41 am }

    Endochick,

    I know. Our culture has to sexualize everything. It really is possible for a man and a woman to be friends only! It’s sad to me that we seem to be expected, at a certain age, to just abandon friends based on gender alone.

    That’s great that your husband understood and wasn’t threatened by it. When the guy I mentioned and I were high school/college age, we were essentially both in a friendship with each other that was outside our “norms”. He was different, in many ways, than any of my other friends. I was different, in many ways, than any of his other friends. (Different high school cliques… to be sure).

    We had a strong friendship-connection, though, that defied labels (i.e. “football player” for him or he used to mess with me by calling me a “brainiac”). He was a year behind me in school. I took French first. Then, when we had the option to take another language… I took Spanish too. (Then in college I took Italian. Ask me to remember any of these languages and you’ll see the brain fog set in).

    So, he and I met in Spanish class. I never would have been in a class with him (since he was a year younger than me) if I hadn’t decided to add Spanish to my courses. It was interesting because he and I quickly saw through the stereotypes and connected as good friends. I had never had a male friend before that. He sat in front of me in Spanish. (Noticing a pattern here? The people my teachers assigned to sit near me in class end up being awesome people I really click with?)

    Anyway, yeah, it was sad when we had to stop talking to each other but it was obviously stressing out his now-wife (not just me but any of his female friends… which were all just friends). He’s just that kind of person who makes tons of friends easily. That’s just part of who he is.

    So, we had to stop talking because I sure as heck wasn’t going to talk to him after she made a big deal about him stopping communication with his female friends. That was the end of that.

    Jeanne

    13 EndochickNo Gravatar { 09.17.09 at 1:02 pm }

    That’s sad that he had to break off all his opposite sex friendships because of her insecurities. I don’t understand some women.
    .-= Endochick´s last blog ..The post where things aren’t going well… =-.

    14 JeanneNo Gravatar { 09.17.09 at 7:19 pm }

    Endochick,

    It made me sad to stop all communications after 11 years of friendship but sometimes things happen.

    Jeanne

    15 Teenagers: Living With Undiagnosed Endometriosis — ChronicHealing.com { 03.07.11 at 3:35 pm }

    [...] in high school happened during senior year because many of the times I waited for a ride, my friend Nancy was there, by my side… keeping me company, cheering me up, and waiting for our ride. (There [...]

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