Christmas 1976Terri and RyanI Love You

About a year or two ago my friend Terri started to tell me that she loved me. We would be finishing up a phone conversation and she’d slip in the “I love you.”  I met Terri in biology our sophomore year of high school. Back then my petite friend had long locks she wore in the same layered look that Jaclyn Smith coifed on the Charlie’s Angels TV show. She was beautiful, sensitive, and a bit shy. Each of us kept notebooks filled with the lyrics of songs and poems.  We shared secrets, confided insecurities and swapped notebooks.  For a while we dated a couple guys who were friends which was wonderful for us best friends to go out on double dates. To this day she still heckles me about having to call my Dad to see if I could extend my curfew, because at the age of 16 was learning that whiskey and beer don’t mix while throwing up in the bathroom at a friend’s party.

Donna's pregnant with KellyAfter high school I went straight to college but Terri did not. We kept in touch sporadically until a few years later she was attending college.  College energized Terri and she was filled with optimism and enthusiasm. She put herself through college working as a dental hygienist and if that wasn’t challenging enough she graduated with the highest honors and was valedictorian of her class. It was at college she met her husband Alan. One Christmas we Terri and Alansat cross legged on the floor in my bedroom and Terri told me story after story about Alan. What a great writer he was, how his writing spoke to her and the way he shared his observations with sensitivity. They married and Terri began a fast paced career with Southwestern Bell right out of college. She blossomed. Whereas in high school she lacked confidence, she now networked and with her fine tuned people skills she was at ease working a crowd.  I once asked her about this change and with a smile she told me that she acted like who she wanted to be and she became it.

I spent Monday at the hospital with Terri. We just found out she has a brain tumor. I suppose I should say had a brain tumor because she in excruciating pain on Monday. It turns out that this was because she was bleeding in her brain so they did emergency surgery and removed it. Afterwards the surgeon gave us the bad news level 4 astrocytoma glioblastoma multiforme. While she was in surgery I had time to think and I remembered all the times Terri would tell me she loved me.  She was always so comfortable saying that and I awkwardly would say “I love you too.” Maybe it was easier for her because she said Cardinal baseball gameit often, perhaps I need to step out of my comfort zone more and tell people “I love you.”  How about you? To whom do you need to say “I love you”?

“I have learned that to have a good friend is the purest of all God’s gifts, for it is a love that has no exchange or payment.” –Frances Farmer