By Denise Ullem
My life blessed me with a best friend.
In the moments of clarity, when I stop and savor the amazing contributions and guidance she delivers—loyally and consistently—I am moved to tears.
This morning provided one of those idyllic times. One of my favorite authors, Katrina Kenison, wrote an incredibly moving homage to a dear friend of hers that recently passed. Katrina wrote,
I have no words yet for what I feel, for where I’ve been, for the sadness, the loss, the hole that is left in the place where just a few short days ago a vibrant heart still beat.
As I sat reading, ensconced in her lyric prose, I cried. Tears of sadness for Katrina’s loss and her profound grief. Tears of joy for the richer life she enjoyed because of her friend’s presence in it. And tears of recognition, grace and gratitude that my life blessed me with a best friend, one whose absence would leave an abyss of emptiness. And I decided that I needed to pay homage to my best friend—right now—on an ordinary Tuesday.
So I called Meg. Through tears, I blurted out, “I love you so much”. Words spilled out over words, emotion tumbled over the phone wire. And I told her.
How rich my life is for her presence in it.
How I cannot imagine my life without her in it.
Now I sit and reflect on the power of our friendship, I recall so many shining gifts. A blustery walk on the shores of Lake Michigan, nearly 15 years ago, her whole self immersed in finding a solution to my problem—an older, much older, client hitting on me.
Her brilliant smile and buoyant presence as she stood by my side on my wedding day.
Her tears of joy as I told her there were two lines on my pregnancy test…
And my tears of joy when her stick finally revealed two lines, the proof of the emergence of life beginning inside.
The ring she gave me. The simple, beautiful band she gave to symbolize the strength, power and fortitude of our friendship. She gave it to celebrate us—and insisted on only one rule: when I die, I am to leave the ring to Abby, my daughter, as a constant reminder of the importance of true friendship.
The way she understands my sorrows, the arc of my history, the depths of my soul. The way our friendship aligned to soften the inescapable blows of life—heartbreak, loss, anger and the beautiful resurgence of returning joy.
Our friendship, so strong and powerful, weathers the inevitable bumps and conflicts that exist in any close alliance. At times, we’ve clashed. Made mistakes. Hurt one another. But as we pass through any challenge, we emerge stronger, more aligned and steeped in our friendship because of the always forthcoming insights and grace that follow.
I admire her joie de vivre. She is bold. She is authentically Meg. Her creativity inspires and motivates many people in her life. She never shies from risk or new adventure. Her impeccable sense of style—in both decorating her home and herself—is notable because she graciously hands-down her gently worn clothes to moi. I even hear her voice guiding me while I shop: “No Denise, take that off. Try on that. Do you love it? No, you need a smaller size—that’s too big (God love her). Don’t you already have three tshirts like that?” And she’s always right.
She selflessly gives herself to causes meaningful to her. She houses remarkable reserves of forgiveness.
She loves my children as she loves her own. She loves me and sees inherent beauty in me (even when, especially when, I didn’t).
And so I sit, my heart so full I feel as if I may float away on this gossamer orbit of gratitude. I am reminded that we are simultaneously cement-strong and fragile—a testament to the diversity and dichotomy of life, love and the beautiful friendship that is ours. I love you, Meg. Thank you.