Eighteen years ago chance and a penchant for reality television brought an amazing woman into my life. It was back when message boards were all of the rage and being a shy introvert I didn’t even use my real name. Back then I was OpenHeart. I mostly lurked. Being raised on “stranger danger” I had no idea who these people were in real life, and God forbid I befriend an axe murderer.
I finally worked up the nerve to make a post or two and got my first reply from someone named Fairydusted. She was quick to joke and shared a lot of the same perspectives I did. Silly chitchat ensued and then it came…an Instant Message. I laugh now looking back on the sheer panic that overcame me when I saw it. I had never spoken privately to a stranger on the internet. My imagination went into overdrive and I had seemingly infinite scenarios running rampant about who she might actually be. None of them were good and all of them were wrong.
It turned out that she was a housewife just like me, but living in Las Vegas. We laughed over the fact that I was her first private message as well, and she had hesitated in writing for the same reasons I hesitated to even open the message. A couple of total spazzes had just made their first connection and there were more to come.
She had been born and raised in Ohio near Twinsburg, and when I told her of my irrational fear of twins (they have a yearly convention in Twinsburg) she decided that I was exactly her kind of weird. There are a select few moments in life that will alter you forever, and this was one of mine.
Not long after, we both worked up the nerve to exchange phone numbers. It wasn’t long before I had to change my phone plan to include unlimited long distance, because we could not stop talking. Everything was on the table for discussion. Things I’d never shared with a soul were now locked away in her vault and her secrets were kept in mine. The immediate trust was unfathomable to me. It wasn’t remotely who I was or even who I am now, but she engendered it immediately.
God had given both of us sisters through birth, but we chose each other as sisters. From the outside we were one of the oddest duos to ever join forces. A stodgy naive Protestant who didn’t touch drugs and a reefer-toking half lapsed Catholic half Wiccan. She swore like a sailor and I would type “LMHO” with the “h” standing for hiney.
She shattered my pre-conceived notions and stereotypes with her purity and light. She expanded my mind and made me question things I thought were immutable facts. She was open to anything and everything that fell within her moral code, and that code was one of our greatest similarities.
We were “live and let live” types, or more aptly put, she was one and she transformed me into one. I would not be remotely who I am today had she not taught me to eschew judgment and proceed through life with love and light. That was her motto and creed, and often the ending to her answering machine message.
Over the years our friendship grew and she was finally able to come for a visit. My girls loved her from jump and thought she was the coolest thing since Stevie Nicks. Despite her efforts, she was unable to control her language in front of them. With each slip up she’d say, “Girls, don’t grow up to talk like your effing Aunt Fairy.” Spoiler alert: they both did, and it makes me laugh every time. I can’t blame them. She was always cool as heck.
I’ll never divulge her secrets, but I will say this…she was a survivor of the highest order. The things she endured in her life would break the hardest of hearts. Never once in our entire friendship did she ever see herself as or take on the role of victim. She always had a story at the ready about someone who’d been through worse.
She had her struggles and things that plagued her and we would often have “brutal truth” talks where I wouldn’t allow her to hide from her role in them. Most friends in my life would drop me in a heartbeat for only being willing to give an honest opinion, but she treasured it and thanked me for it. It never got in the way of our love for each other.
Life did sometimes get in the way and we could go weeks or even a month without speaking. When we did reconnect, we’d pick up right where we left off. Each of us refusing to guilt the other about the break, because we both knew that’s how life worked. Plus, we were just thrilled to be reunited again.
When she moved back to Ohio we had all kinds of plans to get to meet up more regularly. Then life threw us other curveballs and John went through multiple surgeries and her Dad and step mom moved in with her. The timing never gelled. A mere three hours away from each other and we could never make it happen.
We used to joke about moving in together, because we were both a fair bit younger than our husbands. A two-person Golden Girls setup that would have us laughing and raising a ruckus well into our 80s. Tonight as I was shaving John’s head and still fighting tears back, “Thank You For Being A Friend” came on the radio. I have never heard that song on my favorite station ever.
I looked up at the radio with tears falling down and could only utter, ” No, Fairy, thank YOU.” I will miss her and love her forever and I know those of you whose lives she touched will too. My heart and soul reach out to you now as we grieve the loss, but we will honor her best if we continue filling the world with love and light.
Until we meet again, my beautiful Fairy. I love you.