I am flying to Hawaii tomorrow to attend the wedding of one of my best friends from high school. Kim & I have been friends for nearly 25 years, and her approaching wedding has made me very reflective and nostalgic about our friendship and our youth. It has also made me realize how much I have changed and how much Fibromyalgia has forced me to change.
Kim and I met in high school. We had an English class together. I was a serious and studious student, sitting in the front row, taking notes, and hanging on to Mr. Gordon’s every word (partly because I secretly wanted to marry him). Kim kept a low profile by sitting to the side of the room. She spent most of her time chatting with neighbors and making sure her perfect 80’s big bangs maintained their proper height. I loved her instantly.
To say we had fun together would be an understatement. Together with the other members of the Fab Five (yes, we really called ourselves that, and I have the yearbook picture to prove it), our main purpose was to hang out, have fun, and do whatever made us happy. On weekends our days were spent lying out at the beach and body surfing the waves of Huntington. The nights took us to wherever the fun was – dancing to our friends’ band at parties, watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the drive-in, late night munch-outs at Tommy’s Burgers – we were up for most anything.
When I look back on these times, I see a lot of smiling faces. Together as a group, we were really happy and we managed to make what could have been “those awkward high school years” some of our best years.
I think back to the trips we took to Mexico and how we danced until we were the only ones left at our favorite rooftop bar. Boy I really miss the way I used to move my body – fluid and free from pain. We were all athletes and very active. It couldn’t have occurred to me that my body might one day betray me like it has.
Things change as you get older. Real life creeps in. Jobs, relationships, families, health – they all mean the time spent together is less frequent but even more precious. It all makes me feel even more fortunate to have a friend like Kim in my life.
Kim has maintained so much of the beauty and energy that drew me to her years ago. She inspires me. She has her own massage therapy business that she has steadily grown over the years, and she is more fit and active than ever. At our 20-year high school reunion, Kim was the classmate everyone noticed – you know the girl every guy wished they had dated and every girl secretly envied. I don’t think she was even aware of the attention she drew.
Health, nutrition and exercise are all very important aspects of Kim’s life, and I have to say that I know it hasn’t always been easy for her to understand how much I have changed and the limitations Fibromyalgia has brought to my life. I remember one of our first conversations about it, years ago when she was still in massage school. She suggested if I would exercise and strengthen my muscles I could get past the pain. At the time the thought of exercise made me cry in anticipation of pain. I couldn’t blow dry my hair. How could I be expected to exercise? It has taken time for me to see that there is truth to the benefits of exercise for people with Fibromyalgia.
But what I appreciate most is that she has also taken the time to learn about Fibromyalgia and understand the reality of the challenges I face living with the condition. It is not simply a matter of exercise and nutrition = cure. FM is much more complex than that. I missed her bridal shower last month because I was in the middle of an awful flare-up. She was disappointed but understanding – exactly how I would expect a good friend to feel.
I am not sure if I have told her how much I appreciate her, but I really should.
Thank you for all the wonderful years of friendship. Could we have survived our teens & twenties without our friends and each other? I am not sure. So much of who I am today is a direct result of those years. I laugh more and I enjoy life more. I really think I have been better prepared to deal with the trials of Fibromyalgia because I know I have wonderful friends I can count on, friends who love me no matter what. And because I have the foundation of all those wonderful pain free years to reflect upon. Thank you for your friendship, and thank you for taking the time to understand me.
I am so proud of the woman you have become. I know your road has not always been easy. You have had your own trials, but you always manage to persevere. You have come so far, and now you are about to marry a generous and loving man. A man who sees your inner beauty as much as your outer. I am very happy for you both, and thrilled that I get to be a part of your very special day.
Congratulations dear friend.
Forever Love & Friendship,