Sometimes we get so busy in life that we forget that we can lose someone we love in an instant, tragically, leaving you in shock, numb, and physically and mentally ill.
This past week, I lost my BEST FRIEND of 40 years. She knew me better than anybody does, and in return, I knew her just as well.
We loved each other so much, even despite the distance when she moved to Florida. We NEVER stopped writing each other. We NEVER stopped calling each other. We NEVER let the distance keep us apart. We NEVER stopped loving each other.
How do I describe Elizabeth Deann Bradshaw? I could type forever and ever about all of our memories, good and bad. I could tell you how she made me laugh even if I didn't want to. I could tell you about the time, we were 13 probably, we went to Sedona and slid down the slippery rocks (it's actually called Slide Rock). We both wore our levi jean shorts (because we looked goooooood). However, not so cute after you have slid down the rocks so many times that you ripped holes in her levi shorts and now you have an EXTREMELY raw booty. Her mom, a mom of all mom's, rubbed aloe vera on us after we got back to their house. We were in so much pain for days! That's love, though, when your BFFs mom will rub aloe vera on your booty and treating me no different than her own daughter.
The fun we had as kids was amazing. She has an amazing family. Some are still here in Arizona. Dirt bike riding, picnics, old movies, talking about boys, and prank calling those boys!
As we grew up, it was about her sophmore year in high school that she broke the news to me that her and her family were moving to Florida. I was crushed. I cried so hard. I really thought it would be the end of our friendship, due to the distance. Well, I am happy to say, I was wrong! Dead wrong!
During the first few years, they came back home to Arizona every year, sometimes twice a year. Then it started to taper off a bit, maybe every 3-5 years, or if an unfortunate death in the family. But we still talked on the phone, we still wrote those letters and cards.
I remember when she called me and told me she was pregnant with her daughter, Brittany. She had been with her boyfriend at that time for 10 years and she really didn't think she could have children at that point. BOOM! Pregnant! Took 10 years, but she did get her miracle. When Brittany was born, her and her parents made that trip back to Arizona so we could all hold and love on Brittany too. I think Brittany was about 3-4 months old. We had a great time! Deann was beaming from ear to ear. She loved her one and only child. She loved her mom, her dad, and her brother more than I've ever seen. Her Uncle Wayne was just as close to her as her own daddy, too. She loved him so much. We both did. He is a great jokester!
In 2000, Deann called me, and it wasn't a cheerful call. Something was definitely wrong with her when I answered the phone. Her one and only sibling, her brother (Keith), only 16 months apart, was killed by a drunk driver on his way to work, leaving behind a wife and 5 little children. My heart sank in my lap, as I knew right then that Deann would NEVER be the same again, or her parents.
They moved from Coral Gables, Florida shortly after that to Ocala, Florida to a lot of acreage. Perhaps to escape the pain of losing Keith, but that NEVER happened. Keith was topic of discussion for us almost every time we talked on the phone, with tears every time. In fact, I think if it wasn't for Brittany, her daughter, she would have thrown herself in the casket right then. After that, I felt like I had lost a lot of who she was and was afraid I would not get her back. The laughs, well there weren't so many anymore. When she would come home for visits, I could pull that "old" Deann right out of her and laugh and laugh without the pressure or worries and heartache of the pain left in Florida, even if it was only for 2 weeks. Florida was NEVER home to her, but she made the best of it. Every time she boarded that airplane she would say, "I don't want to leave."
When cell phones came out, WATCH OUT! We were on the phone ALL THE TIME. Deann was lonely in Ocala, and I knew that. Hard to mingle with people when you live so far away from "real" civilization.
Funny story. I remember one late night she called me (now mind you we are 3 hours different than her), she was outside in the pitch dark smoking a cigarette (the one thing I hated she did), she always went outside, she didn't smoke in the house. Anyway, all the sudden I hear her scream so loud and I can tell that she is running (she was an asthmatic, so running was not her forte). She was screaming, "bull, bull, bull!" I had no idea what that meant! I was frantic, thinking someone was after her. She was running to her Bronco (her truck) and jumped in and slammed the door! Breathing so hard and panting! I was screaming, "what is it, what is it?" She said, "a bull!" I said a REAL LIVE BULL? She said, "yeah he belongs to our neighbors who never fixed their fence and he always gets out and comes to our property." WTHell fire? She is a straight city gal and all I could do was laugh so hard. She was laughing so hard that she did have an asthma attack, and almost peed her pants!
I could tell stories for days; but right now, it's almost too painful to recall. I lost my Best Friend on March 6, 2012. Her parents are now burying another child, their last child. She may be 48 years old, but she will forever be a "daddy's girl." She loved being daddy's girl, too! She really was more than my best friend, she was my sister. We grew up together. She has known me almost as long as my own family, how could I not call her my sister?!
When I heard the news of her death, I dropped the phone and went down to the floor and begged God that it wasn't true. But, it was... It's been 4 years since I cried that hard (when my mother passed). It hurt so bad I had to go to the doctor. Heart rate at 144 beats per minute with a blood pressure sky high. Fortunately, my doctor gave me something to calm my nerves. It's taken me some days to get this blog together. I want to say so much about her so that those who didn't know her, after reading this, you would have wanted to be her friend too. She was pure, she was genuine, she was sweet, she was kind, she was generous, she was beautiful, her smile and eyes would light up a room. She was also a bully, she was tough, she was hard-nosed, she was surly. And I loved every one of those qualities!
How did we meet? We knew each other in school since I guess 5th grade, softball. Never really spoke to each other, because I was a little intimidated by her. And, we didn't have the same classroom in school either. She had an air of confidence that I didn't have, whether it was confidence in her looks or her fighting (bully) abilities. It wasn't until 7 grade that she began to take note of me, and then bullied ME! I was truly scared of her. My mom was so upset about it that she called the principal (snitch) and told them something needed to be done about this. They wound up calling me, Deann, my mom and Deann's mom to the principals office. Deann gave me a "stare down" that day that was more intimidating than the first. Look at this bully...
After our meeting with the principal, Deann came to me and was truly sorry. It wasn't just an act for the principal. She was so sorry that she started to hang around me and my friends, to the point that SHE was now my ♥ BEST FRIEND ♥ We never parted from one another's lives since that time.
One more thing. If we hadn't spoke for over 2 weeks (busy lives), that was a lifetime to her. We ALWAYS said I love you, even if it was a voice mail message...
I LOVE YOU MORE...
ELIZABETH DEANN BRADSHAW
Jan 4, 1964-Mar 6, 2012