You never know how your life is going to turn out. Sometimes you are born into a family, and sometimes you become a part of a family that you were not born into in terms of biology, but that family loves you just as much as if you shared the same DNA. I was always convinced that I was adopted. My older sister had straight blonde hair, my younger brother had straight blonde hair and then there was me—stuck in the middle with the ugly brown hair that could never decide if it was straight or curly. Never as pretty as my older sister and never as smart as my younger brother, yet I was always getting in trouble (surprising, right?). So yes, I was convinced that I was adopted.
Parent-teacher conferences, the highlight of my year even when I was a kid, consisted of mom and dad coming home, sister and brother getting the great reports and me pretending to be asleep to avoid the inevitable screaming and yelling that was to come. The “why can’t you be more like your siblings and reach your full potential” speech. Yup, I definitely did not feel that I was a biological part of this family (and let it be known, my sister was a big part in making me feel that way, but now I love her so it’s ok…kind of).
Though while I was going through all of these emotional ups and downs trying to figure out if my parents were actually my parents, I had a good friend who lived on my side of town (why must there always be two sides of town—why can’t everyone just live together in peace and harmony?) who was actually adopted. Her parents were always really cool about it and she fit in just perfectly. She spoke about it a lot and we were all a part of the conversation. Of course, she was the only child, the only apple of their eye, and things were always a lot different in her house. When we were in elementary school and even while still in high school I would walk about a mile or so to get to her apartment. I always felt very independent doing this and truth is, my parents were probably napping and had no idea where I was anyway. I was still chubby in my youth, so even if they knew where I was, they were probably just happy that I was walking somewhere and not eating something.
We would spend many afternoons together, playing with her cat, whom I never liked, but my friend was all about the cats. Stickers, posters, notebooks, cats, cats, cats; I guess looking back I might have assumed she would have ended up living in a house with a hundred cats, but I am pretty sure she only has one. And a guinea pig. Anyway, like many friendships of your childhood, we drifted apart, but never too much. Her mom had become quite ill and it was the impetus to speed up her wedding to a guy we all loved and thought was amazing (we don’t think that anymore, but that is for another article). Her colorful, loquacious, funny and vibrant mom passed away on my friend’s 25th birthday. She was left with her amazing dad who had the voice of a baritone angel and who always had a smile on his face.
She could only come to part of my wedding because she was still mourning her mom. And then we were pregnant at similar times; she giving birth to her son #1, and then almost six months later, me giving birth to my son #1. We would have play groups with these two blobs of goodness; hers had the deep dimples and mine would just look around and smile. And then life gets in the way, more kids, different schools, different interests but whenever we would see each other it would be like no time had gone by at all.
Her dad died a few weeks ago after trying everything possible to stay alive. And my friend continued to be the absolutely most devoted daughter known to mankind. Whatever food he needed, she would bring him. He would be in the hospital, out of the hospital and she would always be there, with her two kids to give her dad as much joy as possible.
I went with her to her dad’s apartment last week to help finish up with some dusting, but it ended up being more about reminiscing. Where she used to hide from her mom in the closet, how I would come over to hang out, even if sometimes her mom would yell at both of us for being mildly bratty (who me?). But she was and always will be a part of my story. And it makes me sad that her story now continues without the two people who started her story. Hug the ones you love, remember the ones you will always love and I wish my friend a new wonderful next chapter in her story…
Banji Ganchrow is a self-proclaimed writer who has the ability to be more sensitive than sarcastic. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it!
By Banji Latkin Ganchrow