No offense to my male friends, but they simply can't measure up to Addie, Amy, Blaise, Melinda, Donna, Kathryn, Leigh, Missie, Mary, Kathee, Tamlya and Calliope.
Twelve women, then. A dozen good souls who mean the world to me, and no matter where I go in life they will remind me of how lucky I've been since May 5, and how different the world would have been had they decided not to step forward and kick my ass when they felt it necessary.
It's not been all roses and sunshine, thank God. They are not sycophants, and some of their lessons have stung. But they were necessary lessons, things I needed to accept to get to where I am today. Even couched in the sweetest words, those lessons boil down to three words: QUIT YOUR BITCHING.
Get on with life, they've said, after listening with admirable patience. Don't let a stroke define the rest of your time on this planet. I resisted at first because I was feeling sorry for myself. They let me whine until I was ready to hear and accept what they had to say. Now that I've listened, I'm more than a little ashamed at being such a pussy, but as one of them would say: "Meh."
Each one has inspired me in her own unique way.
I haven't seen Blaise since high school, but she felt comfortable enough to make her mark via email.
Tamlya and I used to be colleagues at the original Paragraph Factory; she graced my recovery with a visit from the East Coast and reminded me that once upon a time, I was her mentor. It's a role I resisted when she first told me. Now I'm proud that I once served her in such fashion. The tables have turned; today I look up to her.
Addie and Mary convinced me that getting out of my shell and out of my apartment was not only not a bad idea, it was vital to my recovery.
Melinda, Missie and Kathee brought the best ears and most patience. They also gave me advice and encouragement that continue to resonate well beyond their words.
Kathryn and Donna: two strong voices from afar, both with enough steel to tell me bluntly when it was time for me to quit being such a fucking idiot, to channel my anger and confusion into something constructive.
Amy has every reason to despise me, but instead she has been the most steadfast, classy woman I know — listening and sharing and letting me know that despite our history, respect and love always win out.
As for Leigh: well, anyone who would come to the hospital, insist I get out of bed and walk her to the ward's doors, and then give me shit for not walking fast enough, is aces in my book.
And Calliope? In her weird, wonderful misfit way, she knows what she's done. It doesn't matter if no one else understands it. I do.
I could write pages about each of these women and it would still not be enough to express my appreciation, my thanks, my admiration, my love. I could spend the rest of my time here trying to pay them back for the past five weeks and the staggering debt still wouldn't be satisfied.
I owe them my life, you see. I owe them my life.