The Best Gift

Every Tuesday night I have a staff meeting with my RA staff. This week, one of my RAs wanted to have a team builder and she asked us all to bring something of significance to explain. I realize that whenever I have this activity, I always pull out the same item because it means so much to me. It’s a gift that was given to me at my 18th birthday party. Here’s the thing about the gift. It is not necessarily flashy or expensive, but it is thoughtful. It is by far one of the (if not the) most thoughtful gifts ever given to me.

Tonight, I felt weird showing this gift. When I normally show this gift, I tell a story about how I met my best friend Danielle. We met while on a debate club in high school and were introduced by mutual friend because we both like Cher. The mutual friend figured Danielle and I would be friends because we like Cher. I automatically was turned off by the friendship just because of how we met. As it turned out, Danielle was pretty persistent with wanting to talk and I thought she was pretty (teenage hormones). What started out as a “eh” friendship, turned out to be out to be one of the best friendships I ever had. Danielle truly became my person. From sophomore year in high school and all through college, we talked constantly. In high school, it was over AIM and having conversations until way after midnight (big deal in high school). In college, it was not as often because we were off doing our own thing, but we were always able to fall back into things without effort.

For my 18th birthday, Danielle made me poster with a letter attached. It as a Cher collage of some of my favorite pictures. Danielle made it as something I can take with my to college and to remember her by. Ever since that day, this collage has lived wherever I have lived. Even when I had to temporarily relocate this summer while the hot water was being worked on in my residence hall for a few weeks, I took this with me. It is something that makes me feel at ease and gives me a taste a home. It reminds me what it was like to have such a great friend with that person never needing to ask for anything in return. After we graduated college and spent time transitioning into real world jobs, Danielle still did her best to keep in touch over text. There was never a detail we kept from each other (most of the time) and she is truly one of the most patient people I have ever met.

I felt weird about showing this gift tonight because for the first time, I couldn’t tell that story. I could not tell about how Danielle and I are so close and talk all the time. This summer, Danielle and I had a fight. Truthfully, I had a fight with myself texting Danielle and Danielle decided she had enough. In retrospect, it is amazing that Danielle didn’t drop me as a friend sooner. At some point, it became the friendship where I asked for everything in return and somehow it was never enough. I took for granted that no matter how mean I could be there, Danielle would still be there. I had to learn a lesson the hard way this summer about what it means to lose a friend as an adult. While I like to think that most days I’ve proven that I can function without Danielle, there are days when I just miss it. It has been instinct for long to have her be the first person I talk to in the morning. Danielle got me through some of the darkest times in my life all while being hundreds of miles away most of the time. I needed to be more patient and I needed to be more understanding about what her needs were. I don’t blame her for deciding to take a step back and not talk to me – there’s no way I can. I showed Danielle a pattern of behavior that said that I wasn’t willing to change and Danielle showed me that a person never deserves to be treated that way.

As sad as it is to lose Danielle, I still smile when I think about her. Danielle taught me something major about what it means to be an adult. I have to learn how to let the little things go, love a little bit more, forgive more often and understand that truly isn’t about me all the time. These past few months showed me that I can’t depend on her and I needed to learn how to survive on my own. It’s not fair to take out my bad days on someone I love. It was never fair to manipulate situations that made her feel like the worst human being. I’m glad I had a chance to realize those things and I am glad I had a chance to realize it with her. Whether or not she knows it, her last act in our friendship was the biggest act of love a person could show me – she forced me to grow up.

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The best gift ever. Thank you, Danielle.

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