I consider myself very rich in friends. Not just in the quantity that I am fortunate to keep but also in the unending quality of each of them. I have been told that I use the term “best friend” loosely because I claim to have three of them, but for each I mean it in a different way. With my best friend Jamie I say it because we have been through so much together, grown up together and are likely the only people who know each other’s history in full. She is the long term best friend.
As we arrive at our late twenties, we have grown up very differently and become two unique and varied people. We always feel lucky that we have been together for so long because we recognize that if we met now we might not bond naturally. For me, Jamie is “my Jamie” and I still see the girl I knew in high school. Back then we were known as a duo; rarely would you see one of us without the other. This included sleepovers on many weeknights, rotating between houses, but always together. I distinctly remember feeling slightly panicked when I was away from her back then. I don’t think I have ever told her this, but she always made me feel safe. She is the friend who taught me how to be braver, more outgoing and she showed me resilience. Her home life wasn’t perfect and she became an adult early and handled everything life threw at her with such grace; I was always in awe.
It’s funny that now people who know us would likely see Jamie as the more reserved and I’m credited for being outgoing because at it’s roots, much of that in me came from her. Having a friend that close at an age where everything feels like the end of the world made me feel like I was never alone. There was a person who wanted to hear every detail about my crappy spanish test or who knew immediately what was going on in my head with just a glance. We developed our own shorthand and language, and not only knew about but witnessed every major teenage milestone together.
At the end of high school she and I got into a fight so dramatic that the friendship seemed forever over. We spent three years apart, growing up separately. It was the vacant hole in my heart, the missing person who I couldn’t replace. The night that we finally saw each other again we sat on my couch talking until the sun came up. We both knew that we could go back to being close as though we had barely skipped a beat. The time apart suddenly fell away and we both rarely speak of it, and when others questioned how we could just let go of a three year feud we told them they couldn’t possibly understand and left it at that. We know now it is always a mistake for us to be anything but in love.
I sometimes look at how much she has been there for me and hope that I have balanced things enough. After college I was dealt some tough situations and without missing a beat, Jamie was there. She is the only friend I have who has been around through everything and always found a way to get to me when I was in need.
Through my cancer she was strong, she would come over my apartment and listen to every gory detail of my treatments and then transport me back to being just a normal girl again by talking to me like everything was the same. We would gossip about people we went to highschool with and I was right back in her bedroom at age 16, healthy and active and part of the living world.
Jamie was the friend who I chose to cling to at both my mother’s and grandmother’s funerals. I felt grounded clutching her beautiful dainty hands and because of her I knew I would never be unable to cope. It helped to have someone there who knew my mother and understood the loss. So many people who helped and supported me had only met my mom a few times or some not at all, so they had to take me at my word that she was incredible. Jamie spent years at our family dinners, Thanksgivings, birthdays, holidays; she was another member of our family. It has been invaluable being able to remember those times with someone who lived it with me.
Jamie Burr has a talent for knowing the perfect balance between letting me talk about the thing that is happening that is terrifying and helping me to talk about something else. I know with her that I will never talk for too long or lose her interest because she has always made me feel like everything I say matters to her. She and I are both known for talking a lot, and often times chatty types encounter those who make us feel like we’ve said too much. With her, I know we could never tire of hearing the other one speak, no matter the subject.
She is my girly best friend so we often chatter on together for hours about everything in girl world. Conversations about weddings, makeup, boys and the like are wildly comforting when bigger things are going on. Yet every time the conversation transitions into something serious, she always knows how to effortlessly switch into being my rock.
I have watched her grow up to become a brilliant and accomplished student with a masters degree in Occupational Therapy. Her job is now to help people who are hurting, and nothing could make more sense. She is so beautiful, in every way. I feel convinced that her heart must barely fit inside her tiny frame because she is such a reliever of pain for everyone that knows her. Her enthusiasm and high energy brings light into every room. I could go on and on about her talents and qualities of character, but I hope it is enough to say that I feel lucky to have her.
So on her 29th birthday I want to thank her. If I haven’t said it or she doesn’t know, she is someone who has kept me strong. Through everything thrown by life she has been a life force and safe haven. She is a source of comfort and joy and I know no matter how far apart our life paths go, we will never be apart. I hope I can do for her as much as she has done for me until we are old and wrinkly together.