There is a woman I know who is absolutely extraordinary.
She works as a CPA by day and as a mother 24-7.
She is, without a doubt, the best friend I have ever had.
In October of '08, when I was just getting to know her, she recruited me to run a half-marathon with her in an effort to raise funds for the school our sons were then attending.
She also has a son on the spectrum. She worries about him endlessly. I tell her to save her worries. I have seen this sweet boy, many times in many different environments. I have watched him; I have talked to him. He will be fine. He will be better than fine. He is going to achieve beyond her wildest expectations.
But that is easy for me to say, even though I would put money on it. LOTS of money.
This woman, my friend, is THE person I would call if I were ever to sit in the contestant's chair on "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." (Do they even still tape that show?)
She would be my LIFELINE.
Not because I think she has an encyclopedic mind, although, without question, she is a very smart gal.
She would be the person I would call first because she would be the person carefully considering the realities of my situation. She knows as well as anyone what I most fear.
She would be the person saying, "Geez, Leah, I think the answer is probably choice B, but I am not sure, and you could pay for a year of speech and occupational therapy for Daniel with the money you could get by just walking away."
She knows how I think, this woman.
She knows how I think because she knows what it is like to worry about a child--to REALLY worry, about things of REAL significance.
She also knows how I think because she listens. She listens to me unlike anyone has ever listened to me, ever, in my entire life.
I called her the night my husband left. She cried with me on the phone. I heard the tears, and mine came even faster--just because she was crying with me, because I knew she felt pain because I was feeling pain.
She sat with me, margaritas in hand, a month after he left, listening to me describe my fear, my uncertainty. She grabbed for the napkins on the table to dab at her own eyes when I described how I had fallen in love with him, when I was two-weeks shy of 18-years-old.
She traveled with me to Austin, about three months after he had left, when I still clung to a little hope that he might come back. She watched me as I repeatedly checked my phone, hoping for some sort of message, some sort of sign, that there was still a reason to hang on to hope.
The call never came.
But we went to the game, we cheered for the Longhorns, we drank some more margaritas, and I had a good time.
All because of her.
This woman, this friend of mine, cannot begin to imagine how much she is valued.
I don't think I could ever adequately express how much she means to me.
She calls me every single day, and if she senses that the day is a rough one, you can bet I will hear from her more than once.
When your life is such a circus, such a three-ring-circus .... when you have so many things to worry about, so many reasons to vent .... when you have so little to offer in return ...... and, yet, this person, this friend, actually calls you every day and listens ....
There is nobody--NOBODY--who will ever illustrate the meaning of friendship better than this woman, my friend.
She is AMAZING.
She is beautiful, and she doesn't even appreciate her own beauty.
She is a model not just of friendship, but of motherhood. If only I could summon half the energy, one-tenth the patience, that she demonstrates in her daily life...
She has watched me shed so many tears, and she knows I am not finished crying. She knows the tears can sneak up like a criminal, ready to wipe me out on a tough day. She knows how frustrated I am and the many, many reasons why.
She is frustrated for me.
She also has laughed with me, many times, in many situations. We even have laughed at some of the absurdity of my life as it is today--tragic though the underlying circumstances may be, we are finding ways to laugh.
This woman, my friend, does more than bring me joy.
She restores my sanity.
Thank you, girl, a million, trillion times over, for being the perfect lifeline.