Someone was looking out for me when they threw the hypochondriac four rooms down from the girl for whom “personal pharmacy” was a serious understatement.
It’s no wonder I want to take the Red Cross emblem from outside the Emergicare Center next to Hardee’s and tack it above her bedroom door.
I wish I could say there’s some other image I picture when I think of her, something sweet and welcoming like a smile or a handshake, but no.
No, it’s the hospital, the rescues, the always-here-when-you-need-me-and-even-if-you-think-you-don’t moments that stick with me for four years and threaten to pull me back to reality if ever my feet lift too far off the ground.
She found us on Facebook. And no, I did not change my name to Girl With An Endless Sea of Problems. She walked right into that door, my friend.
Walked right into our open oak bedroom door, too. Inserted herself into our lives, demanding those four years of us in just four seconds.
I have never, well not since kindergarten, met someone with such boldness when it comes to making friends. Few of us are daring enough to plunge into icy water and break back through the surface, refreshed and almost comfortable already, even though we know it’s going to be OK.
Brooke did that. And I needed that sort of reckless confidence lying around. I needed someone to waltz into my life, promising to stick by me when the going got rough.
And oh, how rough it got. How many times she had to talk me down from cliffs when I was sure I was dying. Sure death was lurking just around the next corner, ready to grab me with its greedy little hands and pull a bed sheet over my head.
The only time I’ve ended up in the ER since my freshman year, she was fortunate enough to escape the phone call that came when I woke up disoriented and wondering how, when someone takes you in an ambulance, you get back home.
Do you walk? Do you crawl? Do you sit down on the cold concrete outside the waiting room drop-out pull-through overhang of that empty, brand-spanking-new parking lot and pray someone channels your inner being to find you?
No. You call your roommate and when she asks where you are, when she asks where the hospital is, you tell her the truth: All you remember is seeing a Sheetz somewhere out the back window of a moving vehicle. And then nothing. Nothing except that absolute terror when you come to and realize someone is wheeling you in on a gurney. Like you really are on the brink of dying.
I am so glad I never put her through that, so thankful because I know she will travel – has traveled – leaps and bounds to help me when I’ve fallen.
I know all about those people, the ones for whom a phone call or a text message is not enough. Oh no, she has to trudge across campus in the middle of a hot afternoon when she has no time, really, to stop what she’s doing. She has to find the girl in the middle of a breakdown, any breakdown, and calm her down.
She is the youngest, if we’re going by birth dates. Turned the big 21 yesterday.
But something tells me that 21 is just another number, just another barrier standing between her and the rest of the world. And she’s conquered it already, moved on to something more urgent.