It hit me yesterday…
When we moved to this country, Husband and I had a lot going on. We had just gotten married, we were dealing with a lot back home, and we were having a baby. To add a bit more to the pot, two weeks after I got here, huge and pregnant and scared and newly married, a time that you need support the most, my grandfather passed away after years of battling old age and my best friend and I, of over a decade, “broke up.” That break up in itself is a story for another time. Husband and I often joke that we don’t know how Rafa didn’t come out needing a therapist with all of the drama we faced.
But I firmly believe that God knows what he’s doing. I was having Rafa in less than two months and while I was devastated about the loss of my best friend, I just didn’t have the time for it. I had a baby to finish baking.
God brought us Rafaella on October 7th at 9:28pm. She was perfect and healthy and all that we asked for. And when I was ready, God also brought me a new buddy. Shayna.
She was all of the things that I had lost but very different. She had come in so unexpectedly but seamlessly and it is really quite extraordinary how simply our friendship happened. One day we knew each other and the next, I felt I had known her a lifetime.
We laugh at the same things. And we laugh a lot. She is the kindest, most positive, supportive, generous person I have probably ever met and at the time of my becoming a new mother, she was all of the things that I needed in my life; a time out from all things serious, the girls night out or any night out, really, the reminder that I was still young and me and free and that I didn’t have to be different just because life had became so different. She did for me what my previous friend couldn’t do at the time… she was there.
But the best part was not just that she became a part of my life, but that she became a part of my family’s life. Husband. Me. Shayna. You’d be hard pressed to find one and not all three. And most of all, she fell in love with Rafa as deeply as Husband and I did. She loved our daughter as if she was her own, something I never realized would be so important in a friend until I had a daughter. Often she’ll come over and take Rafa just to hang out or to give us a break. If Husband and I are running an errand, she’ll ask if we want her to watch Rafa. She doesn’t just say that she loves Rafa. She acts it.
Our friendship took its next level this summer, when she Skyped me that not only was she getting married to an incredible man but that – SURPRISE – she was pregnant! At the time, I wasn’t sure, but by the time we both arrived back in Santo Domingo, I was thrilled to tell her that I, too, was pregnant. A reveal that ended in her SCREAMING at the top of her lungs in excitement and pure happiness. By the way… best reaction ever.
Being pregnant is pretty darn exciting. Your life begins on a journey of change that you could never expect and that you don’t see coming until its arrived. But to be pregnant and experience all of that miracle with a friend – a true friend, well, that is just another story entirely. I have been blessed to go through both of my pregnancies with two close friends, an unimaginably precious gift.
But through all of this I have known (and dreaded) one thing. Her fiancee lives in New Zealand. Her baby will be born in New Zealand. So at some point, she will be leaving to New Zealand. Earlier in the month, she found out that she would have to be leaving earlier than she had planned for. And since I had planned to go home a little earlier for Christmas this year, that gives us even less time than we planned.
Yesterday, Shayna stopped by as she usually does and when she opened the door, Rafa SCREAMED! Screamed with excitement and happiness and pure joy as only a child can. Then again, Rafa always screams when Shayna stops by because as much as Shayna loves Rafa, Rafa loves Shayna equally. To the moon and back. They’re soul mates. We sat there and hung out, watching Rafa explore and discover life, watching Rafa love Tia Yaya and vice versa. And then it hit me…
That as sad as I am to lose Shayna, my best friend here, I am sadder for Rafa to lose her. It breaks my heart to even write it. Husband reminds me that this is the hard part of living abroad and GOD is he right. Making friends is hard enough when you’re adult, making this kind of friend, and then having to say goodbye is incredibly hard, but making this kind of friend that loves you and your husband and your child and then having to say goodbye? That’s damn near impossible.
A week ago, I threw Shayna’s baby shower, with the much needed help of some very good friends. During lunch, I was “surprisingly nominated” with the honor of making a speech. I’m a writer. I’m good with words.
I had nothing to say.
I did the best I could to garble out the words that I have thought about saying so many times through tears and too many emotions but I am sure that I didn’t get out everything I have ever wanted to say. I don’t know if I had a lifetime to say it all that I’d be able to get it all out. How do you thank a person who saved your idea of what it means to have and trust a friend? How do you thank a person who loved you when you needed it most, when you felt stranded by one of the most important people in your life?
I can only only hope that at any time in her life, when she needs me or when she needs someone, that I could be there in the way that she was for me.
Thank you, thank you, thank you for being the friend that you’ve been to me. It has been a pleasure to Focus Friday with you one year and have a baby with you the next. Most people are lucky to have friends through some phases of life and in our barely two years, we have covered a lot of ground. We have cried together but most importantly we have laughed together. I will keep so close to my heart so many of the moments that we have shared and look forward to a time when we will share more moments… with the rest of our growing families. Like I said our last Sunday breakfast, this is the last time we will have Sunday breakfast together. Tbe next time we’ll need a bigger table because Jarred and two little babies will be here also! You will be in so many thoughts even with this amazingly huge ocean between us. Phillip Phillips’ Home will never play without thinking of what you not only did for me but for our newborn family. You so easily made this place our home.
You are so strong. A fighter. But a fighter that fights with love instead of fists. All of us who have been privileged to have you in our lives are better for it and the world is a shinier, happier place because of your impact on our lives. The world is lucky to have you and even more blessed that another little you will be blessing this place. You have done it all right. Maybe not in the most ordinary and customary way, maybe not in the way that most people would choose to live their lives, but “not all of us who wander are lost.” You know where you’re going and although it is not in the same direction as me, right now, I have faith that this has only been our beginning.
…to the rest of our story then, Shayna.
I love you to the moon and back.
Our due dates are 10 days apart. We have gone through the milestones, the questions, the laughter, the emotions of pregnancy together. Husband has had two pregnant wives on our doctor’s visits, accompanying both Shayna and I to our Ob-Gyn appointments that we always make together. The three of us were together when we found out that she was having a girl and I was having a boy. We have had too many laughs with Shayna’s bad habit of asking me a question, waiting for an answer only to doubt my answer. Then asking me the same question a million times until I start to doubt my answer. The result usually ends in an email to our doctor to make sure that I was right. (Our doctor, who by the way finds this threesome pregnancy to be quite funny.) On a day that I come home feeling extra tired and uncomfortable, I will talk to Shayna only to find out that she had an extra tired and uncomfortable type of day too. We go to the pool with our pregnant bellies, complain about missing a good glass of wine, and look up the Astrological Signs of our March arrivals. Hers a Pisces (March 19) or Aries if she’s some days late. Mine an Aries (March 29) or Pisces if he’s some days early.