“The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” —Ernest Hemingway

To anyone that knew the two of us, we could not have been any more opposite. As kids,  she played with dolls and loved dressing up and wearing makeup. I swung from trees and played with balls in the dirt. As teenagers, she caused absolutely no family drama and I created and caused enough for the both of us, and more. College was a struggle for me at times, while I don’t recall her ever needing to study. Her degree was in Nursing, mine was Sociology. We were very different people, but we were always “us”. We were a pair.
Our adult lives took us on very different paths, but we always stayed in touch. We could go months without seeing each other but pick up conversation as if we’d seen each other 5 days prior. I don’t recall us ever having a real argument. She was likely the only person that I can say that about. I confided things to her that no other ears have ever heard. We were closer than most people thought we were. We didn’t have to use words to communicate most of the time. An eye roll or a laugh or a head shake said enough.
Last year, for her birthday, I gave her four bags of sugar-free candy, a book, and one shoe. She rolled her eyes, shook her head, and laughed like there was no tomorrow.
Life was never easy for her. Nothing could ever be simple. It seemed there was always a hitch. But, you would have never known that to be around her. She was always quick to laugh. She was always upbeat. Even in the last three years. She could have easily thrown in the towel. What she went through, losing her mother, her father, and suffering her own health crisis, was almost unimaginable. These last ten months would have broken the strongest of us. But not her. It didn’t come close. She had bounced back. It seemed like the last ten months made her stronger.
I said the day after she passed away, that her superpower was her ability to love unconditionally. But, it was more than just that. She was able to do that, true enough, but she wholeheartedly and unconditionally loved people who likely didn’t deserve it. She was always better to people than they were to her. She was the kindest soul I have ever known. She was also the strongest person I’ve ever known. Her resiliency and her emotional strength were nothing short of amazing. I think those things were also her superpowers.
Most people who knew us, thought I was the strong one. But that wasn’t true. I was just the louder of the two of us. She was the one with all the toughness. All the strength.
And I really can’t imagine growing old without her.
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About Gretchen Mashburn

I am a 1996 graduate of the University of Georgia with a useless B.A. in Sociology. I now live in the armpit of Florida, the capital city. I am a wizard of all things, especially financial management, and a fanatic sports fan. I love to listen to music, read books, and watch TV. I especially love to drink, so I quit.
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