Jul 13, 2011

day nine: a picture of the person who has gotten you through the most

meet katelynn.

She's a fun gal.

We have known each other since we were eleven years old. You know those movies where the main characters can't stand each other in the beginning, but fall head over heels in love at the end and live happily ever after? (of course you do. that plot is used way too often.) Well, that's exactly how Kate and I evolved from middle school to where we are now.

In sixth grade, I was the bookworm with braces who kept to herself. I was a bit awkward in one-on-one conversations with my peers and spent my free time playing with my brothers and my one best friend. Surprisingly, I was always comfortable with speaking in front of the class and discovered that I really loved acting. Our middle school had a drama program and I definitely felt like I had found my niche. When our teacher, Mr.Hinz, announced that our class would be putting on The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, I was ecstatic. I had read the book and seen the movie before, and I knew exactly the role I wanted....Imogene Herdmen. She was the main character, a rough-around-the-edges tomboy chosen to play the role of Virgin Mary in her church's Christmas Pageant. She had all the funny lines. I'm telling you, I dreamed about playing that role. I knew I was born for it. Mr. Hinz told us that "auditions" for the different parts would be held during class. Any of us could try out for any of the roles, and our classmates would vote on who should play each part. Shy as I was, my classmates all liked me and thought I was funny when I did speak up. I felt a little too confident that I would be cast as Imogene. I was just ready to get started with rehearsals.

Then there was Katelynn Blosser. The tall, popular girl who I had always thought was much too loud and opinionated.  She was constantly raising her hand to make jokes and would just sit there with a big grin on her face as the class roared with laughter. Our teacher adored her. She had perfect hair. She played on the elite "Spooks" basketball team, and I couldn't dribble to save my life. I remember when her and another girl from our class did a choreographed dance to "Walk Like an Egyptian" during our Egypt history unit, I rolled my eyes so hard I'm surprised they didn't roll out of my head onto the floor.

The week we were supposed to be doing our in-class auditions for The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, I came down with strep throat. I begged my mom to let me go to school. Begged. She couldn't, because I was extremely contagious. She insisted she was sure I would get a chance to audition the following week. I will never forget my little friend Hannah calling me to tell me that Katelynn. Blosser. had been cast as Imogene. I remember dramatically hanging up on her, pushing away my chicken noodle soup, and stomping to the next room to begin accusing my mom of ruining my life. I don't recall exactly what I was saying, only that we ended up in a typical mother-daughter argument, and as she was trying to console me (knowing her, she was also choking back a laugh) the last thing I sobbed before I fled back to my bed was, "I'm sorry you don't have Katelynn Blosser as your daughter!"

When I returned to school, I was given the only role still available, "Beverly the Schoolgirl." I had two lines in the whole production. Katelynn Blosser had become my arch nemesis.

Fast forward through four years of me continuing to build on my feelings of disdain for Katelynn. Meanwhile, she was oblivious to the fact that I couldn't stand her. I became more outgoing each year, and by the time we entered high school we had lots of mutual friends and would say "hi" to each other in the hallways, but never were in situations where we "hung out." I began to consider the idea that maybe Katelynn wasn't so bad. She was outspoken as ever in our classes, but she also seemed genuinely friendly. Just as I started to let go of my sixth grade grudge, the incident happened. My freshman year I was smitten with a junior boy. He was my first legitimate, rip-your-heart-out crush. I felt woozy around him. My friends teased me mercilessly because I would stumble on my words any time I was around him (AKA when I went through his check-out line at the grocery store). We "talked" for a few months, but nothing really came of it. One night, as my girlfriends and I were renting a movie, we ran into Katelynn. It was summertime, I was having fun, and in a great mood. I decided to "be the bigger person" (yeah right. after years of thinking mean thoughts about this innocent girl.) and strike up a chirpy conversation with her. Then her date turned around from selecting a movie. And it was the boy I had  loved for so long. I felt like I was going to puke. It was a very awkward thirty seconds. Again, Katelynn was totally oblivious to everything. I managed to squeak out a good-bye and had my friend's mom take me home so I could bawl my eyes out the rest of the night. I kept a journal in high school, and the whole thing is in there. Super-drama. I vowed that I was going to hate Katelynn the rest of my life.

Fast forward again to our junior year. I was totally "over" my former crush, and was busy with school and swim team and clubs and friends and boys. One of my best friends had a class with Katelynn and they spent their lunchtime together (which, in high school, is pretty significant) and I had become good friends with Katelynn's best friend, Aubrey. Aubrey always insisted that the four of us should hang out, and because I loved her so much, I finally gave in. Katelynn drove us all to Wichita to go shopping and out to eat. I remember trying really hard to find something to continue my dislike for her, but she was just so freakin funny. I couldn't. I decided that I maybe kind of liked her. The four of us started hanging out so often that we planned a trip to Kansas City over Spring Break.

Love blossomed. Everyone who went on the trip had fun, but Katelynn and I discovered that we had ten thousand things in common. Overnight, we were best friends. We started doing everything together, talked on the phone nonstop (my brother Eli once said that he could always tell when I was on the phone with Kate because I'd be talking so fast that my words were incomprehensible to anyone listening), were hired to work at the same restaurant, etc. We have been inseparable ever since.

Well....that's not exactly true. We have spent about a good length of our friendship living in different towns. As freshman, we went to different schools for a year and only saw each other once a semester. We ended up at KU together the following year and both lived in Lawrence until 2010 when I moved back to Newton to take care of my mom.

Regardless of the miles between us, we have always talked on the phone every. single. day.  With very few exceptions. I recently realized that there isn't one minuscule thing I can think of that Katelynn doesn't know about me. I simply have told her everything there is to know.  I know her reaction to things before I even have the chance to tell her about them. We know where each other is at all times. If one of us goes somewhere or does something without the other knowing (although we live hours away from each other), the other tends to take an accusatory tone. I realize our relationship is slightly creepy. We just love each other that much.

Along with the close tabs we keep on each other, there are several...strange? some would probably call them unhealthy?...quirks about the pair of us.
  • We can never admit to each other that we like something of ours that we actually do like. Confusing, right? Okay, here's an example: Katelynn gets a new cell phone. She takes a lot of time to pick out the phone--does hours of research to find the best possible option. Once she finds the model she can't live without, she then searches for even longer to find the cutest case available for her brand new phone. She calls me once she has it. I say, "oh, you got a new phone? What's it like?" She--literally-- can say NOTHING but: "Oh. I hate it. It's horrible. The case is hideous." Even though she's really bursting at the seams with joy because she loves her new phone so much. When I see it, I say, "um...that phone is really cute." She has to respond with "No it's not." This scenario has occurred in so many different situations over the years. We "hated" our prom dresses. Our cars. Clothes. Shoes. The only acceptable descriptions for our own material items were "ugly" or "ridiculous" or "weird". "Weird" is probably used the most. "You got a new sweater? What's it like?" "Ugh. It's weird." We realized several years ago that we have this problem. We are both very concerned for the day we have kids because it would be so like us claim that we don't like our own children when we actually love them to death. Katelynn thinks my dad is hilarious and my response always is, "No. No he's not. He's weird." My dad makes me laugh 24/7. The thing is, neither of us have this negative approach with any of our other friends. It has become a joke more than anything now. Katelynn just got an iPhone and she said kind of liked it and I told her she was being really cocky.
  • We never, ever hug each other. When my mom died, Katelynn squinched up her face as she opened her arms and approached me for an embrace. She said, "I'm sorry to do this to you but I kind of have to." We both shuddered when the .05-second-long hug was over. Again, this only applies to our friendship. Now, I'm not the huggiest person, but I snuggle with my other BFF Kimberly Julian like there's no tomorrow. For some unknown reason, Katelynn and I just cannot have physical contact. When we had sleepovers in high school (and still now when I visit her) and would have to share a bed, we would sleep the furthest possible distance from each other, facing opposite directions. And we'd wake up that way. The mere thought of hugging each other makes us both cringe. The day we left for college--the saddest day of our friendship, we were bawling our eyes out to the Jurassic Park soundtrack--we did not hug goodbye. We just gave each other a quick wave. That's it.
  •  One of our guy friends once pointed out that we look like a pair of cartoon characters. I haven't heard a more honest or accurate description since.

I really could go on and on about our....weirdness. But the point of this post isn't about that.

The last two years of my life, through everything--good and bad-- that has happened, I have learned so much. I learned of the endless support I have all surrounding me--my incredible family. My co-workers. My friends. And especially my Katelynn.

She was one of the very few people outside our family who knew what was happening with Seth before he died. He knew she knew. And he was okay with it. Katelynn and Seth had always loved each other to pieces. They shared a passion for food. She took a framed photo of him when she moved to the dorms--not of me, her best friend--but of my little brother. Whatever. The point is, I told Katelynn about Seth's situation because as I said before, I tell her everything. What I wasn't prepared for was for him to ask me who I had told aside from our family members. When I nervously said her name, he just nodded like it wasn't a big deal. I explained that she was just as concerned for him as our family was because she really did love him. He said he knew she did. A few weeks later when we found out mom was sick, and I shifted into "go" mode so I could take charge of both Seth and Mom's care, there was no way I could let either of them know how freaked. out. I was about everything. They were both so upset and anxious and struggling to hold on to reality that I had to be the calm and collected one. It was my job to keep them on solid ground. So Katelynn became the person I let everything out to. I remember one night in particular when I called and was just telling her everything that was going on in my head, and explaining that my brain felt like it was being violently ripped apart or exploding or something, then stopping for a moment to realize how stressful it must be for her to be my best friend.  I had received so many messages and cards and phone calls from loved ones who wanted to be there for me as I went through that year, but I chose to do 100% of  my venting to Katelynn (I have had many repeat vents to several other people. But Katelynn gets all of it before it goes to someone else). For someone who has never experienced what I did, she says all the right things all of the time. It's like she has experienced it before because she gives the best, best advice. She knows me so well that she just knows what I need to hear depending on what's happening and the mood I am in. Generally, she just mirrors my emotions. If I call her crying, she cries with me. If I call her in what I can only refer to as "analytic-mode," she will sit there and analyze every bit of mom's cancer or Seth's depression with me until we're both exhausted. She has never tried to make everything "okay" because she knows that isn't always what I want to hear. If I'm being positive and seeing the good that has come from the situation, she whips out the positive. She doesn't skip a beat. It's remarkable. I know I have caught her off guard several times when I've been having a hard day and call her sobbing but it just never phases her and she says the right thing.

Kate was there the morning Seth died. And the entire week leading up to his funeral. And the week after that. She took a ridiculous amount of time off of work and missed class and exams. It wasn't like she could use family bereavement to make anything up either. She drove back up to Lawrence to turn right around in order to drive all of my things home for me so I wouldn't have to worry about moving them. She didn't make a huge deal of being there that week, she was just...there. I was busy planning the funeral and taking care of mom and family coming into town and people dropping things off and didn't have time to give her attention while she was in town but I remember so well the feeling of comfort I received just looking across the room to see her sitting there quietly next to my mom. My mom needed to be able to grieve, but could only do so when she saw that I had my best friend there for when I needed to grieve. My mom always, always adored Katelynn, but the first night I saw her when she was diagnosed--and we stayed up late crying and talking--she told me she wouldn't be able to handle it if she didn't know I had Katelynn for support. My mom was my best friend. She always will be. I know I may not be making a lot of sense and it sounds complicated, but Katelynn's friendship towards me provided my mother with such peace and comfort during the most difficult time of her life, and I still haven't figured out how to explain how much that means to me.

My mom was only on hospice for one week. Kate came to say goodbye the day before she passed away. I remember just talking and talking in a monotone voice as we both sat in the room with my mother (I am still amazed at the fact that Katelynn would be willing to come by to see someone who was dying. So many people would find that uncomfortable and disturbing. But if it phased her at all, she didn't let it show. She just knew that I needed her there.), who had been unconscious most of the day. When Katelynn got up to go, I said loudly, "Mom, Kate is leaving." My mom stirred a bit, opened her eyes, smiled, and said "Katelynn..." That was the last word she said.  EVER! I was so shocked because she had only said one or two sentences in the previous two days and hadn't spoken at all that evening. I could tell she was struggling to say something to Katelynn and I know in my heart that it was regarding me. I simply know she wanted to tell Katelynn she loved her and to take care of me. I still tear up just thinking about that moment--even if I am a little offended that my mother's last actual word was NOT my name, but my best friend's. Hahah. Katelynn said once that it is her "claim to fame."

Like most of my blog posts, this is all over the place. It's late and I'm sleepy. Since I've started a new job where I have to wake up at the crack of dawn, I've found that I cannot function properly after 10 p.m. I just hope I have conveyed how lucky I know I am to have Katelynn Beth Blosser as a friend. Heavenly Father has blessed me in so many ways through this entire experience. If I had enough blogging power in my bones to expand on each family member and friend who has been there fore me, I would. Maybe I will soon. But He really knew what he was doing when he placed her in my life. Love you babygirl.

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