There’s a strange fraternal order several of my friends and I belong to – namely, it’s for those who have lost a parent very young. In theory, there has been no rhyme or reason as to why we’ve all crossed paths, but the reality – I know – is that we were meant to find each other. Two of my closest friends, in fact, lost parents in their 20s (like myself). I found them at different moments along my own path (though within a relatively close window, around the time my dad was at his sickest). Vin, my best guy friend and someone I’ve described in a previous post (see Great Guy Friends) was initially an online acquaintance. I’m talking AOL chat rooms days. Three years after meeting online, I walked into my (grueling) graduate statistics class to find him standing at the front of the room. It was, in a word, bizarre (I knew who he was right away). We developed an immediate bond at the vending machines outside our classroom. At the time, both of our dads were alive though Vin’s dad was battling cancer, and my dad was on a completely downward spiral due to heart disease and diabetes. That was in 2000.
My friend Alison (yes, a namesake) was someone I didn’t know particularly well at all before she was a face in the crowd at my dad’s funeral. I was touched beyond description that she would attend. Although we had met in 2002 as I started my career in higher education, it would take two full years until my dad’s passing in 2004 for us to connect. I learned her dad had passed away from ALS, she had a heart of gold and understood the emotional chaos that happens when watching a parent die from a long-term illness. In 2004, some kind of lightning bolt must have come down from the heavens, sealing our souls together. We could not be any more different in so many ways, but in the way our spirits connected then (and even more so now) – it’s pretty clear we were split apart a long, long time ago.
I often think of Alison and Vin as my sister and brother. They are, for a person who didn’t know siblings growing up, exactly that – except that we are a motley group. Alison looks like she walked off the pages of an Ann Taylor ad and was very likely English royalty in another life. She knows every song (even obscure ones) from the 70s, 80s and 90s. She pays meticulous attention to every detail of her life, i.e. she has a pair of Tom Ford sunglasses that apparently survived some ridiculous span of time without one scratch. I am an amazon next to her and embrace almost every fashion trend. My playlist and XM radio are set almost exclusively to hip hop and reggae. I have destroyed every pair of Ray Bans I’ve ever owned. Together, we make each other cry-laugh and spend hours upon hours in text musing about everything from the minutiae of life to the reasons for gun violence; the same happens in person. While we look and act almost nothing alike, we are on the same page about family, life, love, friends, politics, and general human welfare. As an aside, Alison would – if she didn’t have a family and successful life to worry about – likely be in prison for using her mythical “crowbar” on my ex (not a good break up). Yes, legitimate BFF material.
Vin and I are probably more “alike” as far as personalities go, but I’m fairly sure he wants to injure me frequently. In fact, he states this often. I have a horrible short term memory, get distracted easily (especially while talking on the Bluetooth in my car – ooh, something shiny!), and regale him with stories about all of the men I’d like to chomp. I have also taken to sending him a new Bitmoji (an avatar of myself; if you don’t have the app, I suggest you download it immediately so that you, too, can torture your friends and loved ones) every day. He hates it. I can’t stop sending them. Unlike yours truly, Vin has a mind like a steal trap, gets insanely focused on things and is a relatively new dad (my #littlebff, Vin’s son, is like my own blood nephew), many years removed from the dating scene. He is my spirit animal as far as humor goes – despite the fact that he completely delights in making fun of me/causes me to laugh at myself even when I’m at my maddest, knowing that it enrages me even more – and it’s like he has always been my (quasi) little brother, with me through all the madness. He doesn’t threaten to use a crowbar on anyone, but I know that he would do anything for me. BFF 100%.
Losing parents young is still not the norm; in fact, only 3-4% of the population understands the experience. So, to find others who “get you” is rare. There are so many things that happen in the mind of a child that has lost a parent; for me, a nagging loneliness has been with me ever since 4.11.04. But Alison and Vin (and special others) have helped to fill a sad void with their understanding, unconditional love, Saturday Night Live-level humor, and sibling antics that would fit right into a National Lampoon’s feature film.
If there was ever reasons to believe in past lives, Vin and Alison are mine. I know we have always been together.