…And I am very grateful to have quite a few! But, there is one friend that I’ve had for a very long time, 55 years kind of a long time. Her name is Cheryl and though I currently have three friends named Cheryl, she was the first and she was and continues to be my “Bestie”. I did originally think her name was Judy, but that’s another story.
We met when my family moved from Morris Plains to Grove Place in Whippany, New Jersey. We moved to number 12, Cheryl and her family lived at number 15, caddy-cornered and across the street. I was 5 when we met that August, Cheryl had just turned 7. She was riding her bike, a two-wheeler without training wheels. I was very impressed. It would not be the first time she impressed me.
After becoming friends, I remember days when I’d go to ask her to play and she would tell me she had to finish her chores. I, of course, seldom finished mine without escaping or making some excuse to not do them; but here was Cheryl, dusting, cleaning her brother’s room, and straightening her own room as I followed her around. She never complained she just did her chores as asked, even when I told her repeatedly that she shouldn’t have to clean up after her brothers.
When we were old enough to have jobs, Cheryl got hers first working at a Roy Rogers. She was always faithful to that job. Always willing to work, never complaining. I, too had a job. I worked at Burger King. I complained about the itchy polyester uniforms and the horrible colors (yellow and orange…not exactly redhead friendly). I’d rather hang out with my friends than go to work. I often thought of reasons not to go in. But, not Cheryl, she just went to work and did her job.
When we were in high school, we were in different classes and had different friends. We were still friends, but not as close and the fault was mainly mine. Being fairly outgoing, kind of crazy, and a little loud, I started making lots of friends. Cheryl has a quieter personality. She approached me a few times to say that she felt we weren’t as close as we used to be. I told her everything was fine, and continued doing what I was doing…ignoring her for my new “friends.”
Towards the end of our high school careers, the Lord reminded me of a ‘deal’ I’d made with Him in 8th grade. The deal? I wanted to be popular in school, have lots of boyfriends, and win a Senior Superlative; then I would become a Christian. Yes, I was pretty ballsy for an 8th grader. Wouldn’t you know it, He gave me all of those things and none of it was enough. It was eye opening for me and, as a High School Senior with everything I thought I wanted, I realized what I really wanted and I gave my life to the Lord. Soon after, I had my wisdom teeth, all four of them and the bottom two impacted, removed and Cheryl, my faithful friend came over to see me and make sure I was okay. I was able to talk, which is not really that amazing because, let’s face it, I can always talk. But the Lord gave me the privilege and the grace to share my experience with Cheryl and she, too, became a Christian.
We were each others maid/matron of honor at our weddings, we had children, we did birthday parties, and all that goes with all of that. We grew up. I moved away. And still, we were best friends. Now we text each other prayer requests and usually have monthly phone conversations, always picking up where we left off like we’d just talked yesterday.
During our last phone call I was giving Cheryl my laundry list of things I do and telling her how I need a “down” day at least once a week to recoup my energy. I said it and immediately regretted it. Why? Because the Lord absolutely hit me in the forehead with a brick. (I need that now and then.) In telling Cheryl all that I do, it occurred to me… Cheryl works one full time and one part time job; Cheryl drives about 2 hours one way every other weekend or so to help her Mom who is older and experiencing health issues; Cheryl cares for her husband who is currently on dialysis and waiting for a kidney; Cheryl has recently had to deal with her own somewhat frightening health issues AND with all of that she still finds time for her children and grandchildren. There are no “down” days for Cheryl, but does she complain? Nope. She just keeps on going like the Energizer Bunny.
We all have laundry lists of things we do, that’s just life. But, without even knowing it, Cheryl has taught me what’s most important. Our attitudes. We can do what we have to do begrudgingly and complaining, making ourselves and all around us miserable, or we can decide to enjoy the things we need to do as much as we enjoy the things we have to do. The choice really is ours. When I grow up I want to be like Cheryl. She is a very big deal.