This is my friend Jen.
Jen is one of my very best friends and has been, on and off, since we were seven. We’ve had big bumps in the road, drifted apart, found each other again and repaired the damage more than once. The biggest fight I’ve ever had with anyone in public was with Jen, and it ended with her throwing an entire drink in my face.
But she was also the maid of honor at my wedding.
We have history, you see?
Anyway, my friend Jen hasn’t had what you’d call an easy life. Pretty much as long as I’ve known her, she’s had to skip her way over one major life suckage hurdle after another. Tough times, bad choices, harsh consequences. Shitty luck. A painful divorce, single motherhood, and lots of other stuff that I won’t go into because it’s her story to tell, not mine. The worst of it all, though, has been the loss of her sweet, sweet dad to cancer at a much too early age. Life has never seemed too willing to cut my friend Jen a break. Sometimes I look back at everything she’s been through and it’s hard to believe anyone could have survived it all.
But here’s the thing about Jen.
From the day I met her, she’s been the sunniest, warmest, strongest, most make-the-best-of-it person I know. Every challenge that life’s thrown her way, she’s thrown right back with a big, fat Fuck You. Even at her very lowest – and that was very low – she came at it all with a sense of determination I don’t think I’ve ever seen in anyone, EVER. I’ve never – NOT ONCE — heard her complain about her lot in life. I’ve only ever heard her talk about how she was going to dig herself out of the hole, how things could be worse, how lucky she is to have what she’s got, how much she loves her family and her friends and her amazing, smart, sweet, beautiful daughter.
If strength was only measured in attitude alone, Jen could take down entire professional football teams. She’s the hardest worker, the best team player, and the least likely to throw a tantrum of anyone I know. She’s never been a victim of anything.
She’s not a rock star. SHE’S THE ROCK.
Watching Jen struggle over the years has been so hard, I can’t even tell you. I’ve never been in a position to help her like I’ve wanted, and feeling powerless to make things better for someone who so clearly deserved more than what she was getting – well, that’s just sucked enormous, hairy, sweaty BALLS. All I’ve ever been able to really offer her was my support and my love and a healthy dose of humor. She says I’m her biggest cheerleader, and that might be right. It’s not a role I’ve ever been sorry to play.
And don’t get me wrong – she’s been there for me, too. Maybe more than anyone else. She forgave the awful transgressions of my teens and early 20s (and believe me, there were many) more completely than anyone I know, even though she was one of the people most adversely affected by them. She’s never thrown those mistakes back in my face or even brought them up – not one time – and believe me, she earned that right.
Instead, she’s held my hand through depression and heartbreak and those terrifying moments when you look at your life and ask yourself What ever made me think I could do this? Whatever the situation might be, I count on Jen for advice, hugs and a confidence boost — and she’s always there with plenty of all three.
We see a lot of things differently, Jen and I – we vary wildly on matters of religion and politics, and probably lots of other stuff, too – but those things have never, ever come between us, because that’s not what we’re about. Our friendship is rooted in love and trust and humor and family and respect.
Over the past year or so, Jen’s life has really started to turn around. After years of struggling, she finally landed a great job with a great company and it didn’t take long for them to start seeing everything in Jen that I’ve seen all along. As a result of her hard work, resourcefulness and unswaying positive attitude, she’s started to skyrocket her way up in the company and just recently got a huge promotion with a big title and a nice, fat raise. Her personal life seems to be ironing itself out now, too – she’s in a loving, committed relationship and her daughter is absolutely thriving.
Every time she accomplishes some new fantastic thing, I SWELL UP with pride and happiness – and hope. And that’s been happening more and more lately. Right now, Jen seems happier than I think I’ve ever seen her – and no one in this world deserves it more. I’m so glad I know her. I’m so glad she’s my family.
The reason I’m telling you about my friend Jen is because I want you to know that there’s always hope in life – no matter how bad things get, no matter how hard it all seems or how discouraged you might feel – there is always hope. Good things CAN happen to good people. Some might call it “Karma.” Jen would probably call it “divine intervention.” I’m not sure what I’d call it, other than “about time.” But whatever it is, it’s out there, it really is — and it CAN happen to you, and you should never, ever stop believing that. Your “about time” will come.
Stay positive, keep your chin up, work hard, lean on your friends when you need to and let them lean on you when you can. Focus on what you have and find a way to laugh about what you don’t. If you have to, put your head down for a while and let the worst of it pass.
Most importantly, never, ever believe that your life is meant to be anything other than what YOU want it to be.
These are the lessons that I’ve learned from Jen, and I hope you’ll take them to heart. You get out of life what you’re willing to put into it. You might have to suck through a lot of lemons before you can taste that sweet lemonade, but one day, you will. I promise, promise you will.
Just ask Jen.
Much love,Stumble it!