I never remember to call her on her birthday.
We’ve been friends for 17 years, and I always call the day before or the day after, but never on the actual day. I’m pretty good at remembering dates, I’m just rarely aware of what the date is today.
I think we’ve been friends for as long as we have because she has never once taken it personally. Ever. And she doesn’t just pretend to be OK with it while secretly resenting me; she wholeheartedly embraces that this is just something I suck at. She laughs about it, sincerely. And as she’s winding down from her belly laugh she says, “ohhhhh, I love you.” Always.
Erin is both my closest and oldest friend. We met for the first time when I was 13 years old and had just moved to a new town, Parkersburg, Iowa. She was a year younger than me in school and we wouldn’t get close until we were both in high school, but that didn’t change the fact that hers was the first friendly face.
She had her first child just three months after I had mine. She got married three months after giving birth, just like I did. She and I were newlyweds and newly mothers when the rest of our friends were still sneaking into bars with fake IDs.
Before I moved away, she spent every night at my house for the last several weeks. We’d sit together on our back porch, she and I and Jared, laughing and talking and promising that everything would be OK after I left. The night I left Parkersburg, I stopped and had one last cigarette on her front deck, and I cried knowing that nothing would ever be the same.
The next morning, we met up at a gas station just outside of town and she climbed up into my loaded up SUV, prepared to make the long drive down to Florida with us. She spent a week helping us get moved in to our new home, and I bawled like a baby when I left her at the airport for her return flight.
I don’t know how to tell you how much I love this girl.
She gets me in ways that only someone who has known you since you were 13 can. She loves Jared and I, together, as fiercely as you could love any couple that you watched walk down the aisle and later fight like cats and dogs. She supported me as much through my separation as she has through our attempts at reconciliation.
Her home is mine and mine is hers.
And she’s a phenomenal friend. Much better than I could ever be. She never forgets a birthday. She calls regularly just to chat. She lets me see her weak spots and never judges mine. She makes me want to be a better friend.
I called her today, on December 17th. On the actual day of her 29th birthday.
The first words out of her mouth when I finished singing were, “holy shit, you called on the actual day!” She told me about her plans and her presents and her children’s Christmas concert, and before we hung up she said, “the highlight of my day will be that my best friend called me this morning.”
Happy Birthday, Erin.
The highlight of my day will be getting to be your best friend.