An unexpected gift.

One of my dearest friends asked me to snap some photos of her. She needed a few different ones for a variety of reasons and it would make for a fun day together! We have known each other for 18 years, which seems impossible, because that would put us in the 40 range....... but I digress.

Amy and I met as brand spanking new grads in a chaotic, never dull, what-have-we-gotten-ourselves-into Intensive Care Unit.  We were both new grads in a sea of experienced nurses and frankly, we both looked 16.  Many families gave us questionable glances as we bounced into their family members room, ponytails a-swinging announcing we were in charge of their loved one's care for the next 12 (or maybe 16) hours.  We shared an preceptor, who introduced us to each other saying "You should be friends." and so, we were. Thanks Noreen.

The first year as a nurse is trying. The first year as a new-grad ICU nurse is hell.  Our circadian rhythms had never seen such chaos.  Our shifts went something like night, night, off ,day, night, off, pm's, day, night and we at a LOT of cereal.  Our bodies were exposed to germs like never before and on those precious days off we were usually sick.  The emotional drain of seeing mortality play its "everyone is fair game" game was exhausting.  But, we were in it together for that first year.  And our friendship was cemented over tears, laughter, micro-brews and chocolate.

Eventually our lives took diverging paths.  I married a CNA who wanted to be a doc (who I tried to set her up with first). She moved to the twin cities and eventually married a doctor. I had a couple babies. She had a marriage end.  She saw the wonderment of places like Greece, Switzerland, Argentina.  I saw a lot of diapers and board books.  She is working on a Master's degree, I'm trying to figure out Common Core.

But through it all we've stayed close.  And with any true relationships, we've had some struggles.  And we've had a lot of joy.  We have shared so incredibly much.

So today as I was shooting a few shots of her curled up in her chair, coffee cup in hand, I looked down at my screen and saw the image I just captured.  I was overcome with every memory, every moment, every frustration I've had with her for not seeing her as I see her; beautiful, gentle, intelligent, enough. 

It was one of those rare moments where I knew, in my soul, I was exactly where I was meant to be.

God gave me this moment of clarity in this space, with someone who loved me unconditionally; someone who loved me through the good and the unlovable times, who knew my story because they had been part of it for dang near half of it.  I looked up from my camera and just wept those big ugly-cry tears that only your closest friends get to witness. 

At the beginning of the day, I thought I was doing something for her.  But in the end, it was she who gave me more than she could ever imagine.