By Karyn Spory
There are some people who come into your life and you can recall the exact moment you became friends. Then there are the friends who have been such a constant in your life that you can?t remember a time before them. And trying to imagine what life would be like without them would be like if the world existed without the color blue ? the sky would cease to be and the ocean would turn to a murky-grey. That?s what my life without Dena would be like.
I?ve known Dena my entire life. She was, quite literally and probably much to her chagrin, my first friend. Before working for the school district, my mom used to provide childcare and Dena was one of her kiddos. From the time she was six-weeks old, Dena was in my mom?s care Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Three years later, it wasn?t just my siblings who had to welcome a new addition into their lives.
Many of my childhood memories involve Dena. The ones that first come to mind involve her ditching me on bike rides, or telling me she?d play hide-in-seek with me only for her to forget she was the seeker and I?d stay curled up in the kitchen cabinet for 20 minutes while she played outside without me.
But our more traumatic experiences are usually the ones that bubble to the surface first. Think a little harder and there are all the times she carried me home after I fell off my bike and scraped my knee, or taking me to the park to play on the merry-go-round. Our afternoons were spent napping together and watching Peter Pan (the theatrical version).
We would sit cross-legged on the living room floor, drinking up every scene of that movie. But when Tiger-Lilly?s introduction song came on, it was our time to shine. As the Lost Boys would scatter off-screen, Dena and I would get up, shushing one another and tip-toe into position. My diaper-clad bottom began bouncing to the drumbeat and then we?d start twirling and spinning ? we had an entire dance routine and somewhere there?s a video of it.
As we grew up, our relationship ebbed and flowed, changed and grew. When Dena turned 13, and I didn?t get invited to her party, her mom had to explain that it wasn?t because she didn?t like me; we were just at different places in our lives. I still played in imaginary worlds while Dena and her friends were becoming teenagers, interested in makeup instead of Power Rangers. In eighth-grade, when I was having a rough time and felt as if I didn?t have a friend in the world, Dena, who had her driver?s license, would pick me up after school and take me to hang out with her high school friends. She made sure I knew I had a place and it was right next to her.
Eventually we went to different colleges, and ultimately moved to different states, but we would still manage to spend Friday nights together. We would nestle onto our couches, clad in sweats, with bowls of popcorn or a glass of wine and watch the TV show ?Supernatural? together. If my Internet was working we?d Skype, if not, we?d simply have the phone on the armrest, speakerphone at full volume.
When my gram passed away last September, Dena was the first person I called. Not because I was seeking her comfort, but because after 27 years we are engrained in each other?s lives. We are not friends because we share the same interests or have the same taste in music; instead we have built the foundation of our lives on the same bricks ? the same lessons and advice from our parents. Our lives are intertwined and Dena is as much my family as my sister, Jenny, is. There was no lightening strike moment when we became friends, we grew into a family. And when I called Dena at one o?clock in the morning last September, it was to tell her our grandmother had died.
This weekend I?ll get to see Dena for the first time in months. Our family and friends will gather as we celebrate her upcoming wedding. So, to her fiancé, Jesse, just know that with the Eddleman?s you also get the Spory clan. And when I come to visit, Dena and I will laugh at the stupidest things and we will probably fall asleep watching Disney movies because that?s what sisters do.