If you’ve been following along, my last two posts chronicled the story of who received the first (see post here) and second (see post here) cards in my Hallmark #CareEnough package. I foresee sending many more cards during quarantine, but the third and final card went to one of my ride-or-die girlfriends. Of all the cards, this was by far the simplest and most pared down in its presentation. It was white with black lettering and two hands, also outlined in black, intertwined in friendship on the front. It could only go to the girlfriend who, as the card says, is “here for everything.”
I met this girlfriend over 25 years ago when I was a freshman in college. As a small-town kid navigating an urban campus, I was struggling to find my place. I signed up to get involved with my college student government because it was the most familiar activity (I’d been involved with student government throughout grade school and high school). I thought that maybe, just maybe, I’d find my place there.
This young woman was a year ahead of me, but as vice president of the student government, she welcomed me to my first meeting warmly. During that meeting, I learned that we’d be building a homecoming float, and I was assigned to buy supplies with her. I was horribly intimidated; I barely knew how to navigate the campus, let alone the city of Boston, where we’d need to go to buy supplies. The vice president was from Texas, not Boston, but having spent a year of college here already, she navigated the city with ease, and as I followed her lead, I too began to learn my way. Our afternoon together riding the T and shopping for the supplies on our list flew by because the conversation flowed so naturally. Our friendship was forever sealed a few days later when we, along with a bunch of other volunteers, stayed awake all night building a float from scratch. With a night of paint fights and conversation, bonding and snacks, and laughter and fun, our group made an impression on the judges, who awarded us the Spirit Award for our enthusiasm. And the next morning, the floats rode down Boston’s Commonwealth Avenue as we danced and shouted our school spirit.
This wonderful woman has helped me move more times than I can count, but never was her presence needed more than when she helped me pack up 15 years of life in Boston and drive to New York as I began a new chapter. As she drove us away from the life I had built and towards the unknown, she let me cry the first few miles before getting the music going and focusing energy on the adventure ahead. She spent a night on the floor with me, drinking beers and eating take out Chinese food as we waited for the movers to arrive the next morning. And five years later, when I unexpectedly had to leave that apartment, she sensed the stress in my voice and left her family in Boston for the weekend, showing up on my doorstep unannounced to help me pack it all up again.
This is the girlfriend who, like me, loves to celebrate her birthday. We’ve done big celebrations in Boston, Miami, and New York, and some small ones as life dictates. But whether big or small, we always connect with each other on these special days, because we know how much we each love a good birthday celebration.
Over 25 years of friendship, in addition to countless moves and birthdays, we experienced jobs lost, jobs gained, successes, failures, happy gains, tragic losses, love lost, love found, challenges, new adventures, and all manner of crossroads. We’ve done weddings (hers; I was a bridesmaid), baby showers (hers again), and launching a Hallmark blog (me), and are both on board for whatever lies ahead. So when my third card read, here for YOU. here for EVERYTHING, there was only one person who could receive that card: the person who has been there for everything for me, and the person I’ll do the same for.
These Hallmark #CareEnough cards are just the start. I plan to send more letters, cards, and emails to reach out to those I love and make sure they know how much I appreciate having them in my life. Despite the world being lopsided right now, or maybe because the world is lopsided right now, I hope you too are making time to tell the people in your life that you love and appreciate them.