People always say you only learn who your true friends are when you get cancer, or your husband of two decades leaves you for his 26-year-old secretary, or you run over your own dog.
I know an easier way to get a fix on your posse. Throw your cell phone out the sunroof as you drive down the New Jersey Turnpike. Leave it wedged in your seat back on the Delta Shuttle. Or, as I did recently, do something decadent like ride a horse in the woods by yourself - not even with kids as an excuse -- with your cell phone in your back jeans pocket.
The thing must have bounced out at some point. I walked the trail twice (without the horse) and couldn’t find a trace of my phone amidst the pretty fall leaves on the ground.
For hours, as the loss sunk in, I experienced waves of dread and grief. I couldn’t imagine life without my contacts. It had taken me over five years to build up hundreds of critical, often unpublished numbers.
Reliable babysitters. The orthodontist’s private line. The reservation number for my favorite sushi spot. Moms who would always pick up my kids from school when I got stuck somewhere. The school nurse. My best friend from summer camp who lived in Scotland.
I was helpless without them.
What happened over the next few days revealed a lot to me about who I need most in my life. There were many surprises.
Every few hours, I would panic about not being able to reach XYZ. I would email or Facebook her (most of these critical contacts turned out to share my gender). Until I had put her number back into my new phone, I would be wracked with fear: what if something terrible happened and I couldn't reach her IMMEDIATELY?
Until I lost my phone, I never knew who I really needed most.
A friend in Chicago - with whom I rarely speak in person, but who leaves me hilarious rambling voice mail updates about her life as a working mom with two young kids. A mom who I don’t even like all that much who is always, always willing to be there for any of my three kids, no questions asked. My college roommate and her husband - both doctors - who have often taken my terrified sick-child calls after midnight. The therapist who talked me through my first divorce, who famously promised to be there for me for the rest of my life if I needed her. The one person outside my immediate family whose number I had memorized and could recite in a coma - a Minneapolis girlfriend who’s been by my side, virtually at least, for 28 years and three marriages.
Then, weeks later, I realized there were several people who I adore whose numbers I never missed. One of those was my husband. (JK on that one.)
Having a wide circle of friends and acquaintances is one thing. I’m blessed with that. And I can throw a mean cocktail party with most of them in merry attendance.
But the inner circle of dear devoted lifelines: people without whom I go into a mental tailspin? You know, the friends flung far and wide wModernMom