When my first husband and I divorced over eleven years ago I was terrified of being alone. It was not terrifying in the sense of not having a man in my life. I was scared to death. Growing up an only child I was very sheltered and over protected. I was a thirty-four year old woman who was basically scared of her own shadow. God knew exactly what I needed when he blessed me with my friends Jennifer and Gale. Jennifer and I knew each other from church and she had recently gone through a divorce herself, she introduced me to Gale who was also single. The three of us instantly became best friends. We traveled together, laughed together, cried together and everything else that best friends do together. Gale had been divorced for several years and never had children. She basically left her own home and part time moved in with me to insure that I would not be by myself when my children visited their dad. Time passed along and Jennifer eventually met her current husband, I met Lance and Gale moved to Atlanta. As it often happens, the three of us began to drift apart. We were on different paths in life. Gale had let alcoholism begin to rule her life and to be quite honest doing things with her socially was just not fun anymore. I loved her and but I did not love her actions nor her addiction. A couple of years passed us by and Gale realized her dependency of alcohol. She eventually got herself the help I so desperately wanted for her. After her sobriety, we talked from time to time and had occasional visits but our relationship was nothing like the early days.
I received a call from Jennifer in late October/early November of 2013 asking me if I had heard from Gale. I told her it has been several months since we had last spoke. She insisted that I call her, there was something I needed to know and Gale should be the one to tell me. I hung up the phone with Jen and called Gale immediately. I couldn’t imaged what she could have to tell me that was so important and so sensitive that Jennifer couldn’t tell me. My initial thoughts were maybe she had met someone and she was getting married. But to my surprise when she answered the phone and we began to talk, it was nothing of the sort. She dropped a huge bomb on me. She had breast cancer. Yes the dreaded “C” word had made its way into one of my very best friends. Not only had she recently been diagnosed with cancer, she was also told by her doctors she would need a radical hysterectomy before they would do her mastectomy. Her hysterectomy took place the end of December, 2013 and eight weeks later she underwent a double mastectomy. What do you do with a friend you haven’t been close to for the past couple of years who is down and out? You step up and you pick up just like you left off.
Gale and I had struggles during her bout with alcoholism. I often felt more like a babysitter than a friend during those days. I knew at this point in her life she was sober but all those hurt feelings from before were still in the back of my mind. But… when you have a friend you truly love that love doesn’t go away despite past circumstances. She needed me, just like I needed her when I was alone and scared. She too was now alone and scared. I decided that my life and my family needed to momentarily be put on hold to be there with her. When she came home from the hospital she called me in tears. Her emotions were all over the place. Whose wouldn’t be? She had just been through two MAJOR surgeries only eight weeks apart. She had someone with her that was supposed to be helping her however, I didn’t feel like she was getting the care she needed nor deserved. She needed a best friend to be there to hold her hand, to wipe her tears, to yell at and to fuss at….just because she needed to get it out. I went and picked her up and brought her to my house. From that day, I helped her with drains, prepared her meds, took her to doctors appointment, made sure she had food to eat before taking medication, whatever she needed. I did not do those things to earn recognition or praise. I did it because I loved her as one of my best friends.
Gale’s story is a successful one. She is cancer free….A SURVIVOR! We spent several months together last year, crying, arguing, fussing, but most of all healing. Healing HER not only physically but healing US as friends. She is probably one of the strongest people I know. She has left her desire for alcohol and learned to trust our Lord to take care of her. God put us together for a reason eleven years ago. I am convinced now it was not to teach me how to overcome being afraid of the dark. She was placed in my life to teach me the genuine value of friendship. When you are true friends you love unconditionally, you do not let circumstances of addiction, family, kids, distance, ANYTHING stand in the way of that. John 15:12-13 My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends…..I love you Gale Marie!
“Friendship is….the sort of love one can imagine among angels”
~ C S Lewis