For Connie

For those of you who are for­tu­nate to have a best friend — one you can con­fide in, tell your deep­est secrets, fears and wants, one who is always lov­ingly hon­est and sup­port­ive, keep them close. I’m lucky — and very thank­ful — to say that I have many friends. And I would say that some are my “best” friends. But the one who is clos­est to my heart and has known me the longest (over 25 years!) and has been with me thru the ups, downs, good and bad, is Con­nie.

Con­nie and I met at a small com­pany we worked at in Rapid City, South Dakota (Mt. Rush­more any­one?). Now, she and her won­der­ful hus­band Jeff live in Texas and I’m in Min­nesota. We talk and text reg­u­larly and see each other at least once a year. I recently made the trip to Texas (why would I have her come here when it was still snow­ing and in the 80s there?). I always look for­ward to spend­ing time with her — we play scrab­ble and domi­nos, drink cof­fee until mid­night (and can still get to sleep!), we shop, find quaint restau­rants to try out, go for dri­ves and BBQ at home (Con­nie is a fab­u­lous cook!). She always bakes a cake for me because she owned a bak­ery back in South Dakota (she never let me frost or dec­o­rate a cake but I did make frost­ing once until I lifted the beat­ers with­out turn­ing the mixer off and the ceil­ing got “frosted”.….she sim­ply walked away and left me in frost­ing hell look­ing like a snowman). 

And…we laugh. I’m talk­ing about the kind of laughs that bring tears to your eyes. Laughs from our guts. That’s one of the things I love about Con­nie — she makes me laugh. I enjoyed four days of con­stant laugh­ter in Texas.

Admit­tedly, we both had a hard win­ter this year. Me strug­gling with what seemed like 8 months of snow, dark days and nights and extreme cold in Min­nesota and her recu­per­at­ing from a head on motor­cy­cle acci­dent (she’s recov­er­ing beau­ti­fully). Since I’ve returned from Texas and her feed­ing me one to two sal­ads a day (my body went into a sort of veg­etable shock), she made a deal with me, which I’ve kept. Con­nie would read veve­li­cious every day and I would accept her “chal­lenge” (Sun­days excluded). So far, so good.

This past week’s chal­lenges have been rather easy: eat a salad for lunch, eat a salad with no cheese and use low fat dress­ing (I dreaded this one but did it), and drink no pop (I’m a diet Dr. Pep­per fan). I get it and know what she’s doing. If I start mak­ing changes they become habits. And I’m the first in the room to raise my hand and say “Yes, I need to change some of my behav­iors”. This past week I had a salad every day for lunch — and did switch to no cheese and low fat dress­ing. Pop? Well, not totally given up but cut back.

But here’s the chal­lenge pre­sented to me that took a bit of thinking:

On sep­a­rate pieces of paper:

1. Write down five things about me that I feel are my strengths

2. Write down two things about me that I feel are my weak­nesses; then tear the piece of paper and throw it away

Tape the first piece of paper (#1) to my refrig­er­a­tor or bath­room mir­ror and read it every­day. And then,

3. Text Con­nie the list of my “fab­u­lous 5 strengths”. I did.

This wasn’t a dif­fi­cult chal­lenge per se, but the ‘tear­ing up’ of my so-called weak­nesses was dif­fi­cult. In a way, it was lib­er­at­ing. Con­nie is more than a best friend, we call each other ‘sis’, and my sis knows me bet­ter some­times than I know myself.

In the years I’ve come to know and love Con­nie she has taught me many things sim­ply by her actions. She has the patience of a saint. Really. Where I would have told some­one to screw off (or worse), she sim­ply smiles and walks away. Con­nie has more love in her than any­one I’ve ever met and isn’t afraid to show it — or tell you. She’s a lov­ing mother, wife, sis­ter, and daugh­ter. Con­nie is the epit­ome of what a best friend is and I’m so thank­ful I call her my best friend. I love you, sis.

Writ­ten by Ms. Renee Vevea, thank­ful for all the friends in her life.