Wesley woke me up at midnight screaming, a continuation in a long week of just not feeling well for my precocious 4-year old. After I sobbed in desperate exhaustion, I curled up with him and found myself unable to stop thinking about Esther Day. If you aren’t a Nerdfighter, Esther Day may not mean anything to you. Basically, to honor a Nerdfighter who died too young, Nerdfighters spend Esther Day telling people they love them.
When I told Esther we wanted to celebrate her birthday as long as there were vlogbrothers videos, and that videos on that day could be about whatever she wanted them to be about, she waited a couple weeks before getting back to me. She finally decided she wanted it to be a day that celebrated love in families and among friends. I think of Esther Day as a kind of Valentineâ€™s Day for all the other kinds of love.
And I don’t vlog…so I blog these things! Yay for kicking it old-school!
After yesterday I found myself amazed at how blessed I am with friendship in my life. And at 2am I couldn’t sleep thinking about how – when Dad died – I only had one real world and local friend in my life that I was close enough with to turn to. And how much easier that time would have been if I had been surrounded by the amazing support group I have today.
So I’m using Esther Day to tell my friends I love them.
In my early 20s I had tons of friends. But then – through a series of horribly shitty actions on my part – I ended up deservedly alone. I met Donnie and made a friend or two over the next few years, but I stayed very much a homebody for the next several years. I had crippling social anxiety and turned to blogging. I needed my friends in the internet over the years of struggling to have kids and the resulting miscarriages and anxieties. Those friends helped me more than they know when my Dad died…they made me feel less alone.
But the friends I have now, I couldn’t have imagined how much help they would have been back then. And it makes me want focus on them for Esther Day.
My first venture outside my social anxiety bubble after Dad died was a Book Club I stumbled upon by accident. I was in Barnes & Noble buying Mockingjay when I ran into the parent of one of E’s friends who was meeting her book club for coffee as they were all buying THE SAME BOOK. It was serendipity. We talked, I fell in love with every single one of them, and they invited me to book club. I WAS TERRIFIED. I fretted about what to wear. What to bring. What to say. I felt nervous the entire night. Now? I count down the days until I see them and wish I could see them more often. We’ve had fascinating talks about religion and spirituality. But we’ve also talked about Peeta v/s Gale. They taught me that grown-up doesn’t have to mean old. They’ve taught me the value in standing up for what you believe, and in the joy of still being a free spirit. I put them all on a pedestal and strive to be like them in so many ways. They will always be my first friends after escaping the fog and haze of grief.
The following school year after making my first friends in book club, I got recruited to volunteer a lot in the theatre program at E’s school. The friends I ended up making over the next two years and two musicals are like war buddies. We’ve survived the same battles with the same scars. We can reminisce about that time when the utensil costumes were collapsing in Beauty And The Beast, or when we had to recruit Dads to sit in the castle during the entire show to make sure it moved safely. We can bond over the stress of cancelling a performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat due to a storm that never came. These fellow volunteers tolerated my stress levels and my rants and never held them against me. These wars we waged together in production of LARGE musicals, created bonds of friendship with the strength of iron. What happens during show week, stays during show week. But the friendships last much longer.
I talk a lot about my boot camp sisters. They are my daily source of strength. It’s more than just the fact that we cheer each other on while exercising, we try to support each other outside of camp. We encourage each other in the struggles for healthy eating. We have a Facebook group where we praise each other’s achievements and echo each other’s struggles. They are amazing women who play a huge part in who I’ve become as a healthy and fit adult. Every muscle I have I earned with them by my side. Cheering me on. But we also have date nights together, or cheer each other on at 5Ks. Several of them came out to cheer me on at my half-marathon last year, making the whole thing that much easier. They come see the plays my kids do. They support doing me more than just pushups and burpees. I love them for that.
My newest group of friends that I’ve been blessed with is my running group. Running friends are so weird because you have nothing to do for miles at a time than TALK. They probably know me better than some of the people in my family do, as they’ve just had the unfortunate task of listening to me talk for hours at a time. But they’re so very supportive. And they give me the courage and the confidence to tackle new goals. Mainly, they are my therapists and my life coach all wrapped into friends in compression sleeves. I wouldn’t have done any of my races without them training with me.
I’m just so blessed. Several of my dear friends cross the boundaries of all of those groups and MORE. I text them just because. They’re my rocks. My saviors. My angels.
Because of the aforementioned actions of my 20s, I often don’t feel like I deserve the good things in my life. My friends, especially on days like yesterday when I was feeling down and they showed me their support, are way more than I deserve. They make me laugh when I need it most, but they also make me cry because they’re just so awesome in every way. You all know who you are and I love you so much!
HAPPY ESTHER DAY!