Friday, October 9, 2015

Deep in the Heart of Texas

My friend Donna is moving

In just over a month 

She’s leaving Massachusetts and headed to Texas  
Her son and daughter are in Texas with their spouses and Donna and Rick’s grandchildren
All Donna has wanted to do is get down with there them
And she finally gets to 
And that makes me so happy for her, and for Rick and for all the kids

But I am so sad for Massachusetts

Really I am sad for me…and Sean and Lucy

Which is so terribly selfish because Donna and Rick are leaving behind a lifetime of family and friends
They were born and raised in Somerville – still live in the house where Rick was born
They are everything family and friends should be
And they have so many people who will miss them

But they have this wonderful family, and extended family, in Texas waiting to greet them with open arms

And I am truly happy for her
Nonetheless, as I sit and write this, I have a big old lump in my throat and tears threatening to slide down my cheeks

I will miss my friend more than you will ever know

I met Donna in 2004 when I interviewed her for a job with our company  
In the first interview, she was a bit frazzled as she had just returned from a trip to Pennsylvania
Her great niece had been sick and in true form, Donna had gone out there
So we just chatted – an “interview” was the last thing she needed
Plus I hate doing interviews
We just hung out and talked
Within ten minutes, I knew I wanted to hire her
By the end of her second interview, I felt like I had known her forever; I knew all about her sisters, her children, her nieces, her husband, her son's upcoming wedding and her Mum 

So Donna came to work with me and every day, for four years, we laughed, we bickered, we laughed, we filed, we got frustrated with one another, we did invoices, we laughed, we overhauled the office and had it running like a dream and we laughed
She always had my back in the office and I always had hers

And at the same time, she became more than an employee and co-worker
She became a friend

When Donna left the company, I was devastated
I would miss her efficiency in the office and her laugh

But mostly I would just miss her
I would miss having my friend there with me day in and day out
She had become a confidant; someone I turned to when I needed support, advice, or just a shoulder to lean or cry on

Sure, leaving the company was not the end of the world
There was no way I was getting rid of her that easily
But work was a whole lot more fun with Donna there every day

See, the thing with Donna is this: once you become a friend, once you let her into your life, she is never leaving
Even when you are at your lowest of lows and are trying to push people away, Donna won’t budge
She will stand right there and love you
She won’t judge or criticize
And she’s forgiving
But more importantly, Donna places no conditions on your friendship with her
She truly loves and likes unconditionally

And Donna will always be honest with you and call you out on something if the need be

Plus, she is funny as hell – her sense of humor and brutal honesty are my favorite things about her:
Maria, that shirt??!! NO! And what the hell with that turtle neck sweater…..?? (I threw the shirt out but I loved the sweater too much)
Why am I gonna send you a Christmas card when I’m gonna see you at Christmas?!?! (But I always send her one!)
What do you mean what is this? It’s my Walkman!
But Donna it’s 2006
But I’m walking, man, and I like music when I’m walking……(I bought her an iPod)
This weekend, we’re doing something about that hair Maria….I’m making you an appointment (she did)
Maria! Didn’t I tell you no more turtleneck sweaters??? (I finally got rid of them)

When I started dating Sean, Donna told me within a month not to screw it up (she knew my track record)
I didn’t, I almost did, but she made sure I didn’t

When we got engaged, she squealed, literally squealed and threw her arms around both of use and tears sprang to her eyes
She was as excited for us as she had been for her own kids
When we got married she was right there watching, cheering us on and praying for us

When we told her I was pregnant, and it was so hard to keep it from her, she went into full on Auntie mode

When I told her I was not sure if I was being the kind of wife/mother I thought I was supposed to be, she listened to me without saying a word…she let me cry, let me talk my way through it….she validated my thoughts, feelings and emotions.....she hugged me….then she hit me upside the head and told me not to screw it up

She reminded me what I had in Sean and Lucy but, she also reminded me what they had in me
She reminded me I was worth it – that I too mattered – and that I was just as important as the next person
And she reminded me it was ok to feel the way I was feeling 

Donna has seen me through some of my happiest times and she has seen me through some pretty tough times
She has always been there for me
Even if I did not call her, she was there…
A constant…
A North Star….

Donna has cooked for us, showered us with love support, encouragement and advice (even if I did not ask her for it, she knew I needed it) and just plain old been there.....which sometimes, is the greatest thing a friend can do

Donna is talked about all the time in our house….sometimes Sean or I will just randomly blurt out, remember that time Donna….Remember those cookies Donna made…..Remember how hard Donna laughed when….Donna would think this is funny…..

Donna Donna Donna!

Lucy started calling Donna Auntie Dodo
We would refer to Donna as Auntie Donna but Lucy could not quite say it
Auntie Dodo is what came out
So Auntie Dodo has stuck
Lucy even named her first fish Dodo

We may not get to see Donna as often as we used to but I’ll tell you what, she has not missed a single one of Lucy’s birthday parties
She’s like Punxsutawney Phil, always shows up on that most important day of the year

When I told Lucy Auntie Dodo and Big Uncle Rick were moving to Texas she seemed unaffected for a split second until this conversation:

Mumma! If Auntie Dodo is in Texas, is she…will she…
Lucy’s bottom lip quivered a bit
But Mumma! What about my birthday party?!? Will Auntie Dodo miss it? She always comes!!!
I could not answer for fear the lump in my throat would suffocate me if I tried to push any words out
What honey
Will Auntie Dodo miss my party?
Well Luce, she’ll be living in Texas…..
So she’ll miss it!?!?
Honey, she’ll be in Texas
There was a slight pause and then Lucy threw her hands up in the air and declared
Well, I guess we’ll be having a second party for me in Texas now….
 Indeed we shall Lucy

I have no idea how to thank you for the friend you have been

I have no idea how to tell you how much you mean to me… Sean and to Lucy

You are just, you are….you are everything a Mum, a sister, an Aunt, a Grammy and a friend should be

You are everything I hope to be: empathetic, kind, caring, supportive, unconditional, understanding, forgiving….and you have the best laugh ever

I know you have bad days and I know it’s not always been easy but Donna, you are still standing and you have been more true to yourself than anyone I have ever known

You have picked your battles and won
You’ve cut your losses when you needed to
You have a handled adversity with grace, dignity and pride

I admire you for believing in yourself, your husband and your kids
I only hope that I too can provide Sean and Lucy what you have given both your Ricks and Dawn

I will miss you Donna Dovidio…more than you will ever know

I will miss knowing you are few exits down the highway
I will miss seeing you at Lucy’s birthday party
But I will always always call you a friend
And yes, Donna, I will always call you for dinner

I love you more than my luggage
And though I have probably been remiss over the years in saying this, I hope you know I admire and respect you

Donna, I am so happy you will finally be with all the kids….I am so happy for all of you….and I miss you already

Godspeed my dear sweet friend 
Ah, and please update your Christmas Card List to include me