I have a BFF. Her name is Mary, and I call her Mar- pronounced like Mare. We became friends when her son dated my daughter in high school. I admire this woman… she was always dressed up, looked so professional and so put together. I had this whole story about who she was and what her life was like. (Please tell me that you do this too?!)
So, Mar and I have been friends for a few hundred years. Over the years, we haven’t always seen eye to eye. As a matter of fact, there have been some rough patches. I want to talk about those rough patches a little, to show you what is possible. Friends don’t just fall away…
During a track meet, where our kids were running, I noticed her in her vehicle sitting alone. I walked over and introduced myself. She asked me to hop in… so I did. Holy wow. Her vehicle was a mess. I mean- like trashed! She was such a busy woman that she lived out of her briefcase and her car. (I realized immediately that what I had perceived by her physical appearance, wasn’t what or who she really was… hmmm.)
I liked her immediately!
Her oldest son graduated a few months later, and I offered to help her set up and plan. I drove to their place and dug in. I realized that the image in my mind, once again was totally off! I am not a saver, I don’t like clutter or memento’s… Mar does.
She had graduation invitations from the previous year in her stack of “save items”… when she wasn’t looking they went on the big blue tarp! (I had set up a tarp in the middle of the dining room floor of things to throw away or burn.) We laughed and I talked her away from the edge several times… “No, it’s not a bad thing to throw away a picture… No, you don’t need that either… No, that magazine won’t get read- it’s already two years old…”
At a basketball game, a few months later, I introduced my new friend to my sister Kim. Mar told Kim how lucky she was to have two sisters! Mar grew up with three brothers. Kim shrugged her shoulders and said- “You can have Denise!”
And so it was… I became Mar’s sister. (We call each other Sista)
She introduced me to an old ex of hers, and I dated him for over five years. She said, “Wouldn’t it be great, if two of my best friends got together and made each other happy?”
In 2003, she and I opened a business together. It was a little coffee shop in our town… I adored this place. It was a cozy little place with brick walls, old hardwood floors, freshly painted walls, tin ceilings that were at least 12 feet high… Gosh- it had great energy. It felt old, yet not in a stuffy or dusty sort of way… it was comforting.
We played local music, had live music whenever we could and became groupies and followers of the “Earth Works Harvest Gathering”. (We had no idea who half of them were… but in our minds they were all of our friends!)
We were Strong Christian women with a dream to open a friendly little spot for our kids to work and our community, to gather. I was a Mortgage Loan Officer when we started the planning and she had a great job in management. During the planning phase, I lost my job. (I couldn’t keep up with the volume requirements at the loan office, and they were downsizing they let half of the staff go.)
We decided to continue to move forward and both agreed that this was a “God Thing”, because now, I could manage the place. We opened the doors in the early Winter months and had several months to work out the kinks of owning a business.
Things went south, immediately. We thought we could be different. We thought that our hearts were in the right place and we wouldn’t be like everyone else. **There is a reason that friends don’t go into business together. Whenever money is concerned, it’s not a good thing.
I remember firing her son, taking her off the schedule… and having very heated discussions about who was right. She worked very hard at her other job, and I worked very hard at the coffee shop. It was tough for her to hear all of the good stories and “feel goods” that I was experiencing and to not be a part of it. We struggled in every way.
Financially it was not going well. Emotionally? We were both a mess. Physically, we were both thin and stressed. I would feel like I wanted to throw up, have diarrhea, scream and cry… every time she walked in the door. I heard from several of our staff that she was talking about “our business” around town and in her church… I was secretly losing it.
I went to my parents and asked for advice. They had loaned me the money to get it started, and I needed someone in my corner. My dad asked me why I wanted to own a losing business? My mom said “Maybe it wasn’t God’s plan for you to own Baked Beans, long-term. Maybe his plan was for you to just help get it going.”
Okay… I could live with that.
I ended up walking away from the business in 2005. I couldn’t do it anymore. We had tried mentoring, counseling and had so many rough days. I remember telling her to get on that big old white hypocritical horse of hers and ride on out…
I walked away. Before I did. I wrote a letter to our staff. I told them that our friendship meant more to me than the business and it was time to just release it…
We remained friends. It wasn’t easy… but we worked through it. I even helped her the next summer by working for her! (I was not a saint here either… I had my circle of people… it was an ugly lesson.)
There was another time in this season, that I walked away… it was something silly regarding my relationship. I just felt like she wasn’t being supportive or that she didn’t have my best interest at heart. I told her that I didn’t think that friends should judge each other and I walked away.
Her husband refers to this time in our friendship, as the time that I broke up with her.
Then, my Grandma Clara died. I sang amazing grace at her funeral. I looked up with tears rolling down my cheeks, knees shaking… and there she was. She knew I needed my Sista. That’s what friends do… when it comes down to the nitty-gritty… they are there.
When Paul died, my fun friend came to the house one day when I was working. I had to paint, clean, and pretty much gut the house… Mar showed up in her usual happy way and announced that she knew, that I didn’t need her at this time… there would be a time soon, when I would need her and her hyper self… and she would be there.
I was crushed.
What the heck?
Several months later when we were driving to see our friend Kearney’s band play, I told her how much those words had hurt. I explained that I understood how much my sadness and grief was affecting her. I knew the reason she couldn’t be there for me- was that she had her own grief to work through and couldn’t bear to see me, her rock… hurt.
We cried. I asked her if the tables were turned, how would she have wanted me to respond to her grief? She said that she would’ve wanted me right straight up her ass.
I told her that’s right… that’s what friends do. I was sad that she didn’t even try to see if she could be what, I needed.
She understood. She thanked me for being honest. We remained friends.
Mary got a divorce a few years ago. She called and shared the whole messy story. I told her that my door was always open. We became roommates for a few months. It wasn’t easy- we had our moments… but it was wonderful to have her support in my healing, and to be a part of her healing as well.
One of our obvious differences, is that I am always early- and she is always late… We have tried to stay in contact and make girl night dates- but it’s not easy with two very busy people. Time is precious for us both.
We made plans for dinner and movies one weekend, Mary had to drive South for a meeting the next day- so my place was a good in between place… and we could have Sista time too! Dinner was going to be ready at 6:30… she text me at 6:20 and said she was just leaving work. I was so mad. I text her back and told her to not bother. I felt like she just took me for granted and was always running late or had no regard for my time. She heard me. She apologized and thanked me for letting her know how much it affected me… She has not been late since.
Things get sticky and hard… nobody wants to have these conversations. But, they are soooo necessary. I am a firm believer “We teach people how to treat us… If we don’t talk about the things that bother us… we are saying that it’s okay.” My friend Kitty, taught me that I can own my own power and speak my mind. It doesn’t have to be in anger, it doesn’t have to be loud. I can hold my ground, speak my mind… and it feels good.
A few years ago, my mom had a significant birthday. (70!!) We planned surprise party, and I invited my Sista Mar. She said would be there… then she didn’t come. I was so upset. I text her and told her that I was tired of always feeling like she wasn’t there for me. (Apparently I was still holding some residual resentments… It happens when I am not willing to look at my own part in a situation. If I am just bitching behind someones back… this is a good indication that I need to do some work.)
Mary asked that we have lunch and meet face to face. She said this was not the type of conversation to have with text or email. She was right.
I wanted to cancel so many times… but I didn’t. We sat across from one another over lunch and we talked. We cried. (not sure if she did… she is not the crier that I am…) It was so uncomfortable. I hated it. I didn’t want to listen to her reasoning. I just wanted her to see my pain. (Imagined and real!)
Mary shared something with me. She said every month, on her schedule is her “Sista time”. Nobody- interferes. Each month, she comes down for a massage and a sleep over. Her kids know better than to ask her for anything- this is her sacred time with me.
Her bible study groups know that if they plan something, they have to clear it with Mar and her schedule first.
I never knew this.
I didn’t know how she valued me and our time. I never knew how much she looked forward to our time. Gulp…
I told her that I was sad, I told her that I was mad. She understood. She told me that she has a problem with overcommitment and it was very hard for her to tell people, no. It happened that my mom’s party was the same weekend of one of her bible study groups outings. She couldn’t cancel them because they always clear the date to not interfere with her Sista time… I didn’t know this.
These are jewels… real precious jewels. We don’t get them, if we aren’t willing or able to work through the uncomfortable times tho…
In Dec of 2012, I had a hysterectomy. It was overdue, but I am not someone, who “Doctor’s well!”
My Sista Mar showed up at the hospital with this.
She walked in the room and said- “Sista, I got you a new Beaver!” Seriously… who does this? Mary does… that’s who.
Mar and I are still friends. Real friends. We listen. We comfort. We share. It’s not always pretty, but the things that are worth it, usually never are.
My friendship with Mar is unique… it’s special. I have learned so much from this friend and from our friendship… I am grateful that my sister Kim gave me to her….
Love you Sista!
Until next time,