Friends & Friendships

This past weekend I went on a well thought out, obsessively planned, bonsai road trip.  I had an agenda, stops were scheduled, I was fitting as much into this one day on the road as I could.

I left my house at 7am, coffee in hand (of course), Nav system tuned into my first stop, and a back pack with snacks, water, and the necessary paperwork.  My phone was charged up, the car charger on hand…and the baby goat was in the back of the car.  It would take me 5 hours to get to my first destination, and I started up my audio book.  I listen to books constantly, as I spend a lot of time on the road, and I love to read!  Today was a Kate Wilhelm book in the Barbara Holloway series.  I stopped to fill up my gas tank.  I stopped to pee (lots of coffee!).  I stopped to text and give updates to people on my agenda for the day.

At noon, right on schedule I pulled into my first stop.  Tieton Farm and Creamery.  I met Ruth, her rescue dog Jamie, and we became fast friends.  Ruth and I unloaded Rafael (the baby goat) into his pen and she took me on a quick walking tour of her farm and set up.  She runs a mixed herd of dairy goats and sheep and they make lovely artisan cheeses from the milk.  I got to meet Bella, one of her livestock guardian dogs too!  I love meeting dogs! LOL  It was a lovely place, thick lush irrigated pastures, healthy and happy goats and sheep, cute dogs, and Ruth was a gem. Back at the car we did some paperwork, took a couple of selfies, and I was back on the road.

Nav system updated with the new destination, text message sent, book restarted, stop for gas and pee again, and I was off.  A short 30 minutes later and I pulled into Red Robin and met up with Kristen for a lunch date.  Kristen is a fellow MRKH warrior and is a spit-fire!  She’s pierced and tattooed and currently sports a mohawk with bright blue in her platinum blonde!  We’ve met before in a group setting, but spending sister time one on one is always special.  No one quite gets you like another MRKH sister.  We talked and ate, and talked some more.  We talked about our physical limitations, symptoms associated with MRKH, and other random stuff.  We talked about her “threenager” Dek.  Kristen and her husband adopted Dek as a newborn.  We talked about their adoption journey, and family planning as it relates to having MRKH.  We talked about the research being done and trials being conducted for uterine transplants.  We both agreed that if we were within 5 years of diagnosis and these transplants were being done we would be totally on board in considering this as an option.  We talked about all the MRKH sisters we know who are doing or have done surrogacy.  We talked about younger MRKH sisters we know and how as “big sisters” we can work to mentor them and share our experiences.  We talked too about meeting sisters face to face, but also finding sisters our own age who can relate to what is relevant in our lives in the moment, and the value of sharing out experiences.  I personally treasure every opportunity I have to spend time with my MRKH sisters, so was sad when our time was up and I needed to get back on the road.  Several hugs, selfies, and promises to get together again soon…and we finally parted ways.

Once again, Nav system updated with the next destination on my list, text message sent, book restarted and I was off!  A couple hours and I was pulling into Dennys for my next meet-up.  I was a few minutes ahead, so took the opportunity to use the bathroom and wash up/freshen up.  At this point I was feeling the hours of being in a car driving…and appreciated the chance for blood circulation again!  My darling friend Janine pulled up a short few minutes later.  Janine and I have been friends since high school!!!  That’s 28 years.  We’ve been through it all together, and while we’ve had a few stretches were life was too crazy and we didn’t speak for several years…she will forever hold a special place in my heart.  I was one of her bridesmaids 27 years ago, and she was one of my bridesmaids 21 years ago.  But that is only one part of what makes her so special to me.  This post will likely embarrass her…but I expect she could write an equally gushy blog post about me!  LOL

So Janine and I met in high school, well specifically, we met at the Sno-Isle Skills Center.  A collaborative voc-tech school that served several school districts in the area.  We were both in enrolled in the medical office assistant program.   I don’t know why we hit it off so well, but I’m sure that God had a hand in it!  We became good friends, sharing stories of our boyfriends, families, and life at our different high schools.  When it came time for me to be scheduled for the diagnostic laparoscopy, it was Janine who would be the person who would drive me to the hospital at 5am and sit with me until time for my surgery.  This was the surgery that confirmed my diagnosis of MRKH.  The day I was told that I did not have a uterus, would never get my period, and would never carry a child.  Janine was there for me that day.  As I went back to school, and back to the Skills Center – she was there, and our friendship was cemented.  She asked me to be a bridesmaid in her wedding, and I asked her to be in my wedding too.  So our spring was filled with graduations, our summer with bridal showers, and that fall we both got married.  I wore a red dress in her wedding, and she was supposed to wear a green dress in mine.  A few weeks before my wedding, she got hit with a horrible bout of endometriosis and was in the hospital for a couple of weeks I think.  She was not well enough to be in my wedding or even to attend.  It was sad, but I found an alternate bridesmaid.

A few months later, we both ended up moving into the same apartment complex in Everett.  Two very young couples with minimal furniture, but wanting so badly to be adults.  We shared several dinners at each others apartments as we learned to navigate as married couples.  As life continued we kept in touch when I joined the army and ended up in Colorado.  Occasional phone calls, a few letters.  This was before email and cell phones, so long distance calls were a luxury and an extra expense.  I stayed in Colorado and we all know how that marriage fell apart.  Janine and her husband moved to central Washington, but again, we stayed in touch every few months.  When I met Jeremy, I told her of course, and when we decided to get married I asked Janine to be one of my bridesmaids again.  I hadn’t seen her in probably 5 years, but I desperately wanted her to stand with me.  She agreed, and we did dress measurements over the phone, made travel arrangements, and she came to Colorado to be in my wedding.

It was a wonderful few days with her.  We talked and talked and talked and talked some more.  About little things, and big things; light things and heavy things.  We talked about family, and children, and infertility.  We talked about my first marriage and divorce.  We talked about grief and acceptance.  And she was there on my very special day…again.

Right, back to Dennys 2016.  Janine pulled in, and I gave her a giant hug as usual!  We were seated, placed our orders and took up conversation as if it had never paused.  She and her husband adopted a brother/sister pair through foster care about 10 years ago, and so I got the update on both kids, including the sick one! We talked about family, and cancer; children and infertility.  We talked about my crazy schedule, the work I’m doing with Courageous MRKH and the Beautiful You MRKH Foundation.  We talked about healing, and grief, and acceptance.  We talked about our long friendship, and the roll we have played in each others lives.  We talked about girl time and forming unbreakable bonds.  We talked about God and the roll Faith plays in our lives.  And all too soon we started talking about what time it was, how short time could be, and the fact that I had 3 more hours to drive before I would make it home.  With deep regret, we hugged another 20 or so times…walked out and headed to our cars.  She to go back to her family, sick kid and all.  Me to head home to my own family.

Set the nav system for home, called hubby to let him know I was on the final leg, and restarted the audiobook.  A quick stop to empty my bladder and fill my gas tank, and 14 hours after I had started, I made it home.  600 miles – 1 goat delivered; 1 MRKH sister meet up; 1 sistersisters of the heart of the heart meet up, and I was ready for a glass of wine and some R&R.

Over the years I’ve come to deeply treasure special friendships.  The ones where you connect on a truly visceral level; where words aren’t necessary, and even physical presence isn’t necessary.  When I can walk into a room and know that person accepts me completely, understands me probably better than I understand myself; and we spend the time to build each other up…those are the beautiful sisters of the heart I cherish more than anything.  I’m so truly blessed to have MRKH sisters that fill this role, but also a few very special girlfriends – sisters of the heart.

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