Right before my freshmen year of high school, my family relocated about an hour and a half from my hometown. I had to start a new school, meet new friends and I was absolutely terrified. Little did I know, it was going to be one of the greatest things that could have happened to me.
As luck would have it, about a week after our move in June (my brother was able to graduate high school and I was able to finish out the school year), I caught the chicken pox from my brother and was a horrifyingly speckled and highly contagious mess. My friend-making time was going to be delayed. As I sat in my new foreign living room drenched in calamine lotion, I looked out my front window and saw a gaggle of girls who appeared to be my age. I was kind of in disbelief because what were the chances that I would move to a neighborhood where there would be ONE girl my age. But there were like SIX!!! Introductions would have to wait until my face, neck, arms, legs, and torso cleared up. Ugh. But I was so excited and incredibly nervous, but more excited to meet them.
I don't really remember who I met first, but I know that Lisa, Dena and Gina were the three gals that I spent the most amount of time with that first summer. Gosh, we had a blast! Seriously. We laughed until we were sick, we swam every day in one of our pools, (Lisa's was the warmest - it was heated with solar power!!!) and spent the days just being lazy. It.Was.Heaven.
Here we are at my old neighbor's lake cottage for a visit that first summer.
(From left to right: Ron (my neighbor), Dena, me, Lisa and Donna (my neighbor).
And here we are canoeing on the lake. Lisa sat in the middle and I laughed the whole time. At her.
I mean, look at this picture. How silly we look.
Those girls, who were going into 8th grade, introduced to me their soon-to-be 9th grade friends and acquaintances. They took me under their wings and helped me acclimate to my new climate. They were bound and determined to make sure that I had friends at my new school. They introduced me to Joel, Mark, Ellie, Debbie, and Chad. Debbie (who lived right behind me) hosted a party at the end of the summer and she invited everyone from her class over, so I was able to meet another 20 or so kids my age. Honestly, humbling how generous they were. They were true friends and will ALWAYS have a special place in my heart.
Obviously years have gone by and we've stayed connected through Facebook and I enjoy hearing about all of the goings on in their lives. Right around Christmas a few months ago, Lisa informed her Facebook family that her husband had developed a rare form of cancer in his brain. This struck me so hard. I was devastated for Lisa and for her husband Ben and their two children. Not to mention their extended families and all of their many close friends. I just couldn't believe it and I walked around the house the next few days just in a fog, praying for them. Praying for strength and courage and a cure and healing and anything I could think of that would help.
Lisa and her husband live about 3 hours away, but Ben was getting his treatments about 25 minutes away. They'd come down here for weeks or days at a time and then head back home to recover. Lisa started a Caring Bridge site and continued to keep her community of supporters informed of Ben's progress and I looked forward to reading every last one of her updates.
A few weeks ago, after his fourth treatment, they received the very best news: Ben was in remission. The treatment for the last few months worked in a "best-case-scenario" sort of way, and although he's not officially "cured" (you have to be cancer-free for at least 5-years for that title), they were unable to detect cancer in his tests. I was elated for them and rejoiced with them upon hearing the news!
I reached out to Lisa and asked if there was ANYthing she needed and bless her, she said there was. She requested a cake to celebrate Ben's final treatment. Something that she and the family could enjoy over their celebratory dinner. She wanted the words, "You did it Ben!" to be on the cake and she requested the green ribbon logo to be on the top.
I put a lot of love into my cakes, but I have to admit, this got more than its fair share. I couldn't be happier for them and although I finally got to meet Ben very briefly when I delivered the cake, I admire his courage and strength through all of this.
Lisa is unable to consume gluten, so I whipped up a special treat for her too; gluten-free cupcakes. The amount of strength that she has had to have is overwhelming to me. She's kept her family moving forward and as a result, they haven't really skipped a beat. Her positivity is contagious and she's a natural cheer-leader.
Lisa snapped this shot of us at the cake delivery. Lisa's the drop-dead gorgeous model on the right.
And here's Ben, Lisa and their kids with the cake.
Lisa, thank you for being such a great friend to me. I'm celebrating with you all and am so grateful that you gave me the opportunity to "help" in some way! Prayers for continued good health and healing!