You know how you've got those friends on Facebook--the ones from high school who maybe you weren't all that close with. You knew them, they knew you. Maybe you were in some classes together. Maybe you were both in the band. But you ran in different circles. Nothing mean about it, that's just how it was. But, because your town was small and your high school was small and you pretty much went to school with the same people from kindergarten on, you knew each other. But after high school, you didn't keep in touch. And maybe you saw each other at the ten year reunion and said hi and caught up a bit, but it was mostly because of the shared and awkward feeling of somehow simultaneously knowing and not knowing one another, not because you were trying to deepen your friendship. And then, another ten years went by, and you went to the twenty year reunion, but you didn't really hang out much doing reunion-y type stuff because you had family committments and kids, etc. Did you see this friend at the twentieth reunion? You can't remember. But then Facebook came along, and all of the sudden, you were friending and being friended by people who you had to go to your yearbook to remember: "Oh yeah! I remember him! He sat behind me in English. But didn't he move away our junior year?" You know what I'm talking about.
And some of these new/old friends you got closer to and communicated with more than you ever had in high school, and you wondered, "Why in the hell weren't we closer? She's really cool!" And you saw what life had done to them. Maybe they were heavier. Or gray-headed. Maybe they were divorced with kids in college while yours was in elementary school. Maybe they still lived in your hometown or in Switzerland or Kentucky. You began to learn if they're really religious or Republican. Or both. Or neither. You saw vacation pictures and Christmas trees. You had these glimpses into their lives and wondered if they were looking at your posts and pictures too.
My friend Wendy is one of these people. We were not close in high school, but she has become my friend through Facebook. And right now, she is lying in her bed, receiving hospice care because this time--her second time dealing with breast cancer--she is losing her battle. I have gotten to know Wendy over the past few years like I never knew her when we were growing up. She has two adorable children. She loves John Waite and Motley Crue. She likes wacky hair color and funky glasses. And she is, more than anything, a fighter.
She may never know how much getting to know her--having our silly Facebook conversations over the past couple of years--has meant to me. To know someone with so much to live for who has been working every day for years to persevere in the face of terrifying odds humbles you. I am honored to now call this brave woman my friend.
Thank you, Wendy. You are one of the most courageous people I've ever known.