Self – Promises
I promised myself I would write tonight. So here I am. It’s late and I’m tired, but I promised. The list of promises I’ve made to myself is long and detailed. Part of the list is also unwritten…more promises to come. I have made a commitment to myself to experience as much as I can during this time I have on earth.
Being alive, having a life to live, is like having a day pass for Disneyland; I want to see and do as much as I can before the park closes. Sure, I will have to wait in line sometimes and just take in the scenery until the next adventure begins, but I at least I have a day pass, lots of people can’t get one anymore.
I clearly remember the day she entered our college dorm. Her long black hair ran all the way to the bottom of her back. She smiled at me with her mouth full of braces and stuck out her hand, “Hi. I’m Andrea.” A big click went off throughout the universe because the two best friends in the world had just met.
From that day on, we stuck together. From studying all night and crying over boys to family and girlfriend drama, we were buds. She invited me to meet her family and they welcomed me with open arms. We roomed together for four years and we even had silly nicknames. Andrea would imitate a television commercial of the time by saying to me, “You know what I mean, Vern?” Eventually we knew no other name than, “Vern.”
Unlike me, Andrea knew what she wanted in life and she had a plan. She was going to be a lawyer so she studied political science. A big picture of her future car, a bright red convertible Porsche hung above her desk. She wanted to get married, be a mother of four kids and she always wanted to live near her family. Not one ounce of doubt entered her mind about what she would accomplish. Nothing would stop her. I felt so lucky to have a friend like her. I knew we’d be pals forever. She gave me a birthday card once with two old women riding a roller coaster together and labeled it “The Verns”. Andrea wrote inside about our future adventures. She inspired me.
Before we knew it, we began our fourth year of college. That year Vern would graduate. I still had another year to go, but we had a trip to Maui planned to celebrate her accomplishment. It was going to be a great year. Then, something strange happened. She developed a rash, a butterfly rash, on her cheeks. A few weeks later she could barely lift herself from a sitting position. A few months later, everything changed.
Andrea’s long black hair started falling out in handfuls because she had to take steroids. Her beautiful brown skin became pale because she could no longer be in the sun. She vomited everything she ate. She was told she could no longer go to law school and she should never drive a convertible or have children. The doctors told her she had Systemic Lupus.
Andrea did eventually graduate from law school, but she had to do it slowly. The year we turned thirty, I called her to wish her a happy birthday. I’ll never forget the conversation.
“Hey Vern, Happy Birthday. Can you believe it? We’re getting old,” I said.
“Well, I’m just glad I made it to thirty,” Andrea said.
Andrea died the next year at age 31 from complications due to Lupus.
My number one self-promise is to never forget Vern and her passion for life. I know that she would literally kick my butt if she knew I wasted the time I had left on earth. If she were still here, she’d be living it like she was at Disneyland. She would ride as many rides as she could and she’d experience as much of life as possible. She’d be driving that bright red Porsche around with the top down (at least for a little while). I owe it to her and to myself to do something with the days I still have. I’m so lucky to be alive and so are you if you are reading this. What will you accomplish before the park closes? What are your self-promises? We should all have many. Ya know what I mean, Vern?