I recently got to meet up with our Chick Lit Cheerleader, Jen Tucker, when she was in town for her husband's business conference. The first time I got to see her, my family and I drove out to her hotel, all ready to go swimming with her at the rather small pool available. When we got to the pool area, all decked out in our swim gear, we were informed that the pool was CLOSED!
There is an upside to this...the hotel worked out an arrangement with another hotel down the street for us to swim there instead. And good thing, because the pool was slightly bigger and there was a hot tub! In the meantime, we had to walk around the streets of DC in our bathing suits and towels. (Unlike Jen, I forgot to bring a cover up, so I looked even more ridiculous. And no, I'm NOT posting pictures!)
It just goes to show that when something unexpected happens, it can lead to a good thing,
Unfortunately for Jen, she recently received a heavier curve ball. However, she still found a way to look on the positive side of things.
A Friend Like That
Life throws curve balls our way. That’s just a part of the journey. Monday morning I was balancing a steaming travel mug of tea while trying to get out the door for a meeting as my cell phone sounded the alarm a new text had arrived. I looked down at my phone and noticed it was from my best friend, Nancy. Six words changed the course of my day: Tina Bowling passed away last night.
Now, before you worry this is going to be a melancholy post rest assured that’s not happening here. Tina would not like that one bit. She’d smack me from the pearly gates and we just can’t have that, can we? This is a story about friends, the passage of time, and living big for 30 days.
When I graduated from college, I worked part-time at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis and full-time at a little clothing store as an assistant manager. From the first moment Tina came into Paul Harris, we were instant kindreds. Two girls connected, who loved clothes and accessories, and they lived happily ever after. Isn’t that how we prefer stories to end?
Once I was hired on full-time at the museum, I left the world of retail and began living the dream working at the “Do-seum” filled with five floors of fun. I remember telling Tina all about my new job, we’d promised to have lunch soon, and she’d try to shop and enjoy it without me if that was even possible. As time usually does, it marched on.
Five years after our last hug, I saw Tina again in the craziest of places: Babies R Us. Maybe not so crazy since we both had babies now that I think about it. It was Wil’s first day of preschool and I refused to leave the vicinity of the building I’d abandoned him at for four hours of his little life. Ryan was just a tiny tot sitting in the shopping cart, playing innocently with a container of cereal from the diaper bag while I cried standing in some random aisle. Sobbing is a better descriptor, really. I recall feeling a gentle hand on my shoulder, looked up, and it was Tina shopping with her mom and her little girl, Grace. I didn’t recognize her at first, then it clicked. She hugged away my tears and fears. I fawned over her daughter. We exchanged emails to have a playdate and then I immediately left to sit in the preschool parking lot for an hour while Ryan snoozed away in his carseat. It warmed my heart to see her and I knew I had to meet her for lunch soon.
I joined Facebook in 2008 (if my braincells are on task today in the memory department). At first it was only to keep in touch with friends from high school and college for reunions. Why else would someone in their thirty-something years do such a silly thing? At least, that’s what I believed at the time. Once I navigated my way through the friending thing, and friend’s of friends that might be your friends too, I saw her photo and knew that smile anywhere.
She knew my BFF, at least that’s what Facebook proclaimed. A connection I never knew existed. Tina and I connected, instant messaged and couldn’t wait to gather for some girl time. We attempted to get tickets, along with Nancy, to see Grease on stage in Indianapolis, yet one of us couldn’t make it for some reason. We wanted to meet halfway between Lafayette and Indy for lunch, yet were both so consumed with the tornadic activities of our children we had a difficult time selecting a date. We were in a happy place connecting through social media and joked that once the kids were in college that maybe, just maybe, we could finally spend some time together.
Many of us have a friend like that, don’t we? The one where years tick by, you care about each other very much, yet life continues. Tina is loved so deeply, so missed by so many. Her husband, three children, and close gaggle of friends. She never lacked a smile. She was the ultimate cheerleader and good samaritan. She loved pulling off surprises, dancing with friends, capturing the perfect photo, and living her life for others. Tina fought a short battle with brain cancer. So quick, I didn’t realize the depth of her opponent or how ill she truly was. Knowing her, she probably pushed aside the aches, pains and feeling crummy for awhile before seeing a doctor because she had too much life to live, things to do, and memories to make with her family.
Many of us take time in November to find something we’re thankful for each day leading up to Thanksgiving. One of Tina’s friends commented on a post the other day which was originally written by Tina in 2009. I’m so thankful that new comment bumped it so others could read her thoughts. Tina’s words:
Think about the next 30 days. Consider doing something you’ve always wanted to do, then make it happen. I’m not talking about what might be impossible like being a dancing shark during Katy Perry’s halftime show. I mean a shift in the everyday. Dance in the rain. Go crazy and order something different at your favorite restaurant and not your same old-same old. Have ice cream for breakfast. Turn off the electronics and enjoy the silence. Make plans to have coffee with that one friend you’ve been meaning to see for ages. Not your best friend, not someone you meet with all the time, I’m talking about that one person who immediately comes to mind you haven’t seen or hugged in a very long time.
Whether you’ve never used that waffle iron that’s been sitting in a box for ten years, or watched the sunrise while still in your pajamas, I’d love to hear what’s on the docket. Your ideas and dreams inspire others. They’ll inspire me. And Tina will be ever so pleased.
Jen Tucker is the author of the funny and true stories, The Day I Wore My Panties Inside Out and The Day I Lost My Shaker of Salt. In September 2012, she had her children's book, Little Pumpkin published as an e-book. She also blogs monthly for Survival for Blondes. She currently lives in Indiana with her husband, three kids and two dogs. You can find her at Twitter, Facebook, her blog and on her website. And in case you missed them. check out her previous Chick Lit Cheerleader posts here.