Sunday, January 13, 2013

"I know you'd quit your job if I needed you to..."

Back in 2010- the other dark year of recent days- I was lamenting to a friend on the phone about the absence of another friend's "help".  Before you get all "Wow, Becky... that's very 12-year-old-girl of you,"... I KNOW.  I even blogged about my neediness- twice- in 2010.  I won't link them for you because there is no sense in us all going "back there", but I promise, they exist.  I've come to terms with my neediness and gotten over a lot of it.

Anyway, while on the phone with Friend J, I was crying about another friend not "stepping up" to help when I needed her to.  (Let it go, we've moved on.)  I told her- in my very mature way- that I know if I needed her, she was there for me.  And then I said words that she's quoted back to me time and time again... "I mean, I know you'd even quit your job if I needed you to..."

(awkward silence.)

"Um, Becky?  I'm not going to quit my job."

(more awkward silence.)

"Riiight, but you know what I mean, right?  You'd do something drastic if I needed you to."

"Possibly, but I'm not quitting my job."

Well then.  Whoops.  Hey, Needy-2010-Becky... do you hear how this sounds now?  In the moment, I know I meant well.  But reading it now (and reliving it a little) makes me realize just how crazy it sounded.

I figured out this week why that was an example my jacked-up-brain was ready to make.

Not only did my Daddy teach me to live like that (he made lots of self-less decisions for friends... some of them stupid, too)... but I've seen it modeled among my friends.  Specifically, my guy friends.

When I was in high school, I was in State Student Council.  I was fortunate enough to meet people from all over our fine state... we traveled together, laughed together, and became life-long friends in the truest sense.  There are a couple of these friends I talk to on a monthly basis... and you'd have no idea we formed a friendship from only seeing each other three or four times a year.

Mars Hill 50th Anniversary
When I got to Carolina, I had several "ready made" friends.  We all were excited to see each other on a more regular basis than our previous geographically challenged lives made possible.
1992, our schools being inducted as officers

We met each other's friends.  Our worlds blended together quickly.  Two friends in particular- Lee and George- sucked us in to their friend world almost immediately.  I spent more time with this crowd of guys than I should have... and beautifully never crossed over the awkward male/female friend line with any of them.  I may or may not have made an idiot out of myself several times in front of many of them... but in that beautiful way that allows you to stay close to guys later in life... "back in the day" lines were never crossed.

I had met lots of Lee and George's friends in high school.  Those I hadn't met yet quickly became friends at UNC.  In fact, there were only 2 from their high school crowd I didn't know.  Dan Johnston... and a guy named Ben who ended up in our wedding.  Well, and there was Spirko who I kind of assumed was a figment of their imagination, but that's a story for another day.  This group of guys was "special"... they spent a lot of time together, did anything for each other, and put each other's needs ahead of their own.
One of our many trips to Bubs... Dan's glasses are awesome.

After graduation, these guys continued to stay connected... and continued to get together way more than any other guys I know.  And they continued to love big.  Lee and Erik drove to Mars Hill to attend my Grandmother's funeral.  I'm not sure I even knew they were coming... I just looked up in the receiving line and saw faces from "home".  (I do remember trying to explain to my Uncle Bud that I wasn't dating either one of them, but that, yes, they should stay to join us for the Family Luncheon.)  Erik donned a camp and gown and walked with me at my belated graduation.  And that graduation wouldn't have happened if George hadn't gone out of his way to help me stand up for my asthmatic-rights over the years.  All of those guys came to visit me time after time in the hospital- we way extending visiting hours and numbers of people allowed in a hospital room.  I so benefited being part of this larger "family" community- at Carolina and beyond.*

13 days ago, I woke up to frantic texts, missed phone calls, and Facebook messages of these guys trying to get in touch with me.  Two of them left voicemails I won't likely forget that said almost word for word the same thing: "Becky, Lee is very sick.  Very sick.  I need you to call me."  Lee, the Great Connector of this motley crew of boys, had developed the flu and pneumonia and had been Life Flighted to UNC Hospital during the late night hours of New Years Eve.  I'll let you catch up on the details on his CaringBridge site rather than retelling them here, but I'll sum it up like this-  Lee is still very sick.  He is doing incredibly well given what the doctors saw 2 weeks ago.  His wife, Emily,is truly one of the strongest women I've ever known.  And please keep her in your prayers- she is seven months pregnant (and has two little kids at home.)

And here's why I have such high expectations of friendship-- those guys have loved Lee and his family well.  They have surrounded them both physically and emotionally in these long, scary days.  They have rearranged work schedules (none have outright quit that I know about... yet...) and obligations to make sure that Lee's family knows they are there to help.  They are being the boys they have always been and loving each other well.  The same guys who drank a lot of beer together in college are making sure the ICU waiting room is well stocked in food and drink (Diet Sundrop, to be exact.)  The same ones who camped out for basketball tickets together are standing in the room with one of their dearest friends and... you guessed it... watching ESPN with him now.  And because they love a good party, they are dreaming up a bash to celebrate Lee pulling through this.

the first picture I have of Lee... JTHHS, May 1991
Being fully immersed in this kind of love has given me lots of clarity recently.  It makes me grateful I've lived in this community of friends for over 21 years now.  (Lee and I are just months short of knowing each other 22 years!)  It's made me realize that my expectations of friendship have been made from seeing friendships lived out among Lee and "his guys".  I'm fortunate that I continue to get to be a part of that world... and I'm hoping all of you know that kind of self-sacrificing friendship, too.  It'll change your life.

Daddy's Celebration of Life, Summer 2012

*I would be remiss to not include the girls that were part of this group of guys.  Several became part of "the guys" after marriage, but one in particular- Mary- has been there from the get-go.  She spent her fair share of time with me in my hospital days, too... and I seem to remember she and I had the lovely duty of helping these boys clean out their refrigerators a time or two.  She has carried a heavy load of coordinating care for the Conners... and for that, we are grateful.

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