A Beautiful Friendship
I met my friend Mary through my blog, and we are now kindred spirits! I asked her if she would want to write about her friend Jeff for Down Syndrome awareness month. Enjoy, it's beautiful...
You know when you meet someone for the first time, and it is like you have always known each other? That is how it was with my friend Jeff. I first met Jeff in 7th grade. I had never met anyone like him before, and I can say that, even still, I have never met anyone like him. His friendship is one of the biggest blessings of my life.
We met in drama class, and since he also liked to play the drums, the teacher created a role for him in the play where he could also play the drums a bit. Jeff and I really connected and were fast friends. Such a great start to our friendship!
He has always been very creative and musical—in addition to theater, he absolutely loves to dance, sing, write, paint, and draw. He has a special place in his heart for Backstreet Boys and knows every word to every song. Jeff and I were in 8th grade English together and the teacher knew how much Jeff liked to sing and perform, and so once a week, Jeff would perform a song for us all. It was an amazing experience, and everyone in the class really came to love and celebrate him for who he was, and the incredible passion and love he put into his singing. He is definitely not shy! I was always amazed at his bravery in just getting right up there and singing his heart out.
He loves music, and is always bringing a new CD for us to listen to when I see him. He has introduced me to so much fun music over the years! And I know all the Backstreet Boys songs too because we always start with a little BSB. He ends every phone call with me with “As Long as you Love me.” It has sort of become our thing over the years. I will say, “Ok, bye Jeff! As long as you love me!” And he is like, “No, as long as you love ME!”, and I say, “No as long as you love ME!”, and then we both laugh for a bit.
Jeff also loves sports, particularly basketball and bowling. He played on a team for a while, and my mom and I would go to his games with his mom and then we would go get ice cream afterwards. We have had lots of dates with our moms through the years. We have had 17 years of memories together! We have seen plays, gone to parks, bowled, gone to movies, talked for hours, have had many meals together, and eaten lots of ice cream, Jeff’s favorite.
Our senior year of high school, he asked me to go with him to his prom. Of course, I said yes! He looked so handsome all dressed up, and we had such a wonderful time together. We danced the night away! We talk about the fun of that night all the time.
Speaking of dates, he has always been incredibly protective over me, especially with the boys I have dated. My date and I would go pick Jeff up for a fun day together, and he always quizzed them when I would get up to use the bathroom, asking them if they really loved me and if they were going to treat me right. He even did the same quiz with my now husband. I am so glad Paul passed the test!
One of my favorite things about our friendship is our shared love for conversation. We talk about life and love and faith and a lot of good stuff in between. We both love to talk about our feelings and different experiences we have had. We have a lot in common! He is not always happy, and neither am I, and we have taken a lot of comfort in each other. It is so nice to call or see Jeff and talk about what is on our hearts, and we talk very honestly and candidly with each other and that is such a beautiful thing in my life.
We also talk about the hard times, and Jeff has seen his share of hard times. His mom died unexpectedly 10 years ago, and I will never forget that horrible night he called to tell me the news. I was a freshman in college and was so far away from Jeff. His mother was his absolute favorite person in the world. She was the brightest light, and she was always so positive and was always laughing. We have talked about his mom many, many times since then, and if he is having a hard day, we will talk about how she is with him and how amazing of a person she was. We will also talk about how some things don’t make sense and losing his mother is one of them and how one day, he will be with her again. I feel so honored to have known her so I can talk about her personally with Jeff. If he can’t reach me, he will call my mom and they can talk about what he is going through. Both his biological father and his stepfather also have passed away. In addition, he has been through tons of surgeries and hospital stays and some hard medical situations. His plate has been very full at times. He just keeps trucking on though! His older brother, his extended family, and his large circle of friends are a wonderful blessing to him and absolutely love him to pieces.
He was so sweet when I had surgery last year for the first time—he would call me every day before the surgery for weeks to talk about how I was feeling and what to expect. And then after the surgery, when I was recovering at my parent’s house for a while, he called everyday to check in on me. Sometimes I would be sleeping, and he would ask my mom if I was remembering to take all my medicines, and if I was doing okay. It was really touching for me to have such a caring friend reach out to me.
Jeff is almost 30 years old and lives a very normalized life. He has a job, and he has an active social life. He is like every other adult that I know—some days are good, some days are hard, and just like everyone, he wants to love and be loved. He is a loving brother, grandson, nephew, and friend. He is someone who really loves life and has such a vibrant personality. He has his trials and his celebrations every single day, just like everyone else I know. He wants to do something big, to make a difference in the world. He has definitely made a difference in this world just by being who he is. I love him with all my heart and am so blessed by our friendship!