Last February when my lease was expiring, I moved in with one of my girlfriends while her husband was deployed. She knew my oldest sister & my youngest sister through their bond as Army wives, so naturally I was introduced to her when I made the move to Colorado. We had barely known each other for a year when she offered her home to me, but our friendship at the time felt more like we were acquaintances than close girlfriends. I prayed about the decision before deciding to move in with her, because I have lived with friends before -- & it has usually turned things pretty sour. But I needed the financial relief of having "roommates" & she needed the company & support during her husband's deployment. I knew the right decision for both of us, so I accepted her offer.
What transpired over the next seven months was stunning. This woman became one of my closest girlfriends, while her daughter became my honorary niece. I really can't imagine living anywhere else with anyone else, because the past year with her has been so seamless. The closeness in our relationship seemingly happened overnight, but each day we learned something from each other. She taught me about patience, perseverance, compassion, & sacrifice. Watching her fill her role as a wife has helped me to understand the pieces of my soul that still need to grow. Watching her fill her role as a mother has helped me to understand the sacrifices that my own mother has made for the sake of my brothers, sisters, & I.
Few people have seen my Kim-Kardashian-Ugly-Cry, but Andrea is one of them. Despite having a public blog & being an open book among friends & strangers, I internalize a lot of emotions. Sometimes life is overwhelming. Sometimes disappointment, sadness, & anger crash over me like a wave & all I can do is cry. I hate crying in front of others... but, when a friend died unexpectedly, Andrea was there to hold me while I cried. When my heart was broken, Andrea was there to encourage me while I cried. When I missed my family for holidays, Andrea was there to love me while I cried. And when she was missing her husband, I was there to hold her while she cried. When the stress of motherhood reflected in shimmering tears, I was there to encourage her while she cried. We bonded, we became more than friends, we became sisters.
I have jokingly called her Coach over the last year, as that's exactly what she has been -- a coach. She will take my problems & offer solutions. She will give her unbiased opinion. She won't sugar-coat the truth, even if I much prefer to have the sweeter version of life. She has jokingly (and sometimes seriously) referred to me as her daughter, & I have jokingly (and sometimes seriously) referred to her as my mother. That is simply who we have been for each other. We complement one another. Her strengths covers my weaknesses. My strength covers her weaknesses.
I wondered how this dynamic would change once Cory returned home from deployment, but this woman hasn't changed a bit. She has remained steadfast in her support & encouragement over my life. Amidst her roles as wife & mother, she has still managed to be a best friend & a sister to me. Life has certainly changed over our months of living together, especially now that she is expecting her second child with Cory. I was invited to attend the ultrasound just last week, & I must admit -- I had to work really hard to conceal my Kim-Kardashian-Ugly-Cry when the lights were dimmed & I saw the first glimpse of her baby appear on the screen. I took a deep breath & blinked hurriedly to combat the steaming tears from rolling over my cheeks. And then I heard the baby's heartbeat. The only word I can think of to describe the emotion in that moment is "remarkable". I was seated across the room, but had to get closer to Andrea & hold her hand when the tiny beat of life echoed against the walls. I changed instantly in that moment. I have long felt like a part of the Moore family, but on that day it became more than just a feeling.
As I reflect on this year, I have come to the conclusion that not all family is related by blood. Sometimes people just get you. People you can laugh with until midnight. People you can ugly cry with when life doesn't go according to plan. And people to celebrate with for all of the living that happens in between.
Merry Christmas, from my "family" to yours.
Megan Elizabeth is a storyteller based in Kalispell, Montana. Take a peek at her blog & portfolio, drop her a line, & follow her story on Facebook & Instagram.