I figured it was time to write you a letter. I think of you often and wonder what kinds of things you might be doing. I imagine there are all sorts of fun things to do where you live now. I imagine you having a favorite friend…someone who makes you smile and laugh and forget about all the sadness and heartache that even little people feel on this big, crazy, beautiful earth.
I didn’t know my favorite friend when I was little like you. That’s ok, though. I met her when I was 25 years old. I liked her because she wasn’t so grown up and dignified that she forgot how to play. She was a goofball like me, so we started having all kinds of fun.
Pretty much immediately.
We spent our days swimming, jogging, eating, dancing, singing, and getting into all sorts of mischief. Of course, we were grown so we had jobs to go to and children to take care of—and we did do those things—but we also played. Sometimes I believe that is one of the most important things a grown-up can do. The more you play the less you frown and I’m pretty sure that is why my friend is so beautiful.
When she was very young, she was in a car accident. Her femur bone broke and busted right out of her skin. Her hip shattered. She spent a long time in the hospital. Surgeries, rods, and all kinds of scariness I don’t like to think about. I wish I had known her then so I could have brought her food and books to make her smile because that’s exactly what she did for me one year when I had to have my knee taken apart and put back together again. I love food and books so she brought me a pound of m&m’s and a Playgirl magazine. The m&m’s were very good but the magazine was very naughty.
She does naughty things like that sometimes.
Even so, she’s a wonderful friend. The grown-up world can be a very painful place and when I’ve walked through those difficult times, she has taken my hand, spoken healing to my soul, and turned my tears into laughter. She does these things in her own unique way, almost anonymous– as if she wants me to believe that my sorrow has magically disappeared and she didn’t do a darned thing to make it happen.
After many years, her injured leg started giving her trouble. The first procedure her doctor tried didn’t make it better and then one day, you were there to help try something new.
My friend cried the day she learned about you.
It has been a few months since her surgery and she is coming along just fine. She’s working hard to make her leg strong again. She can drive her sexy car now, too.
But let’s not talk about sexy cars.
Let’s you and I talk about playing at the park.
I will make sure she does plenty of fun things with that new, precious cartilage coming to life inside of her knee. We will walk many miles, dance to great music, and do plenty of second lines with the most beautiful umbrellas you’ve ever seen.
We will T.P. houses and run away before we get caught because my friend still does naughty things.
Probably always will.
When she comes to visit me, I will take her to the park for a picnic—maybe we’ll have sandwiches, Cheetoes, Twinkies, and Sundrop— and then we will play.
When I close my eyes and imagine you, I think this might be something you might like to do.
Sometimes in life, people have imaginary friends and give them real names. I know you are real but I’m going to give you an imaginary name. To me, you are Bernadine Halla. Bernadine– because you need an old lady name like the rest of us. Your old-lady-sounding-name means “brave as a bear”. You also need a beautiful name so Halla means “unexpected gift”.
It suits you so much better than Juvenile Donor.
Thank you, little one.
You are brave as a bear, a giver of unexpected gifts, and so very beloved.