Friday, November 2, 2012


The heat rolled in liquid waves off of I-35 as we blew down the highway, bandannas on our heads and beers in our hands. Wide as the road, Sharleen's gold '76 Cadillac convertible "Darcy" danced through the shimmer as we took Texas by storm that summer. We were in that middle space between highschool and what comes next in life, driving out the past few months of our lives with deep conversations and hundreds of miles back and forth between Dallas, Austin, San Antonio and beyond.

Sharleen was the sister I never knew I needed. Twins of different mothers, we had the kind of deep and intense relationship that highschool girls have when they are wrestled off to boarding school and left to their own devices. Even at 13, you could tell her soul was a thousand years old. Late nights in our dorm room, we would sit up talking through the stuff that carried heavily with us; sometimes painful and challenging relationships with our mothers, dads who were intense, loving and often difficult men, what it meant to escape to the big city from small towns and all their complexities. Sharleen was, in many ways, my first true love: the person who knew me best in life, the person I bared my heart and soul to, the person that I learned to fight with and work it out all the while knowing that she wouldn't haul ass no matter how bad it got. She was, and is to this day, the person I can trust most with my heart.

Because I write this blog as much to document a bit of my life for my children as I do to hammer stuff out, I am tempted to tell all of the Auntie Sharleen stories here so that they will some day read what this friendship has taught me. Like the time I picked up the mail to find the card I had sent back to her, returned out of anger and hurt over a rift that nearly broke our friendship, written with a note of explanation on the outside that made it impossible to not hear her message. How that act of persistence and love taught me that people who love you will ride through the rough shit and take the lead position, even if it's painful and sad, even if it means they have to be the one willing to prove what you are worth to them. That trust is borne of those acts.

Or the time I turned around in a crowded church at my brother's funeral and saw Sharleen and her entire family there, completely unannounced, having journeyed at great expense from different states just to stand with our family. That being strong for someone is sometimes quiet and deep and subtle. That solidarity means everything.

Or the many times we sat through death together, celebrated life together, flew to each other for advice and a steady hand even though months had passed between communications in our insane lives. That once built, a strong friendship transcends all other things and becomes a fortress, a port, a refuge, an oasis. That people who you have let into your heart can be your best guides, for the fundamentals of who you are as a person, what is best in you, does not change.

I've struggled to write this post for some time, actually. I began it after a trip to see Sharleen earlier this year and have sat at my computer trying to compose it over and over. There is no way I could begin to capture what this woman means to me, no way. I remember sitting in a darkened movie theater in New York City, a plastic cup of surreptitiously procured wine in my hand, watching the movie Beaches with my best friend, this woman that means so much to me, this person with whom I share a connection that will never be broken. I remember tears rolling down my face at the thought of losing her, just as they are now. I remember thinking that I could never thank her enough for what she has given me, what she has taught me, and what I hope to give to her in return.

These blessings are deep. I am so lucky. 

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