National Best Friends Day
Recently, I found out that June 8 is National Best Friends Day, the same day as my Great Aunt Nancy’s birthday. This year she would have turned 90. She passed away Wednesday, May 25, 2016. This woman truly was my best friend. So, on her birthday this year, I will honor her memory by reminiscing on the countless great times spent together and say some extra prayers for her.
Although the age gap between us was 70 years, the bond that we shared was unbreakable. She had been a part of my life since the very beginning, acting more like a second mother than anything else. One of my first words was ‘Nana,’ since I couldn’t say Nancy at the time. Calling Nancy ‘Nana’ soon stuck with the rest of the family. Many family members called her that until her last day. As a small child, I could count on her for anything at all. She had the sweetest heart of anyone I’ve ever known. So much of my childhood was spent wrapping up my Barbie dolls and Kelly dolls with toilet paper, pretending we were the doctor and nurse taking care of them, dressing my dolls in different outfits and then creating a runway to pretend they were models, her letting me call in any type of candy or pop I wanted to order at her store, Neely’s Grocery, her buying me a Beanie Baby every time we went to Cracker Barrel to eat, sitting next to her in my family’s van every year on our 18 hour car ride to Sarasota, Fla. where she owned a house for my entire family to spend vacation, and her making me her famous macaroni and cheese, and our long phone calls (which occurred quite often even just a week before her death). All of this made my childhood beyond special. I wish I could now thank her for that. Her quick wit and one in a million type of personality had a genuine impact on who I am today. I wouldn’t be who I am without her. As I started maturing and growing up, our relationship did as well. I began to more clearly see how generous of a person she was. This woman gave so much of what she had to others. Any time she saw anyone in need, friends, family, strangers, she gave. In addition to that, she was always quick to give family members money to go have a nice dinner on her. Personally, she gave me more than I could ever repay. She got all her joy in life by giving to others. I feel that this was largely due to her incredibly strong faith in God and the Blessed Mother. She was the most prayerful person I knew. It continuously inspired me; it even does to this day. The multiple pieces of advice she gave me also brought me closer to her. She pushed me to be the best I could be and understood who I am as an individual more than anyone else. I will miss that more than anything. Time went on and on, and her health continued failing. Before all was said and done, in a 20 year span, she suffered from stage 4 breast cancer, had a mastectomy, had her cancer return 10 years later, had another mastectomy, had an emergency pacemaker surgery after finding out her heart rate was dangerously low, cancer returned and spread through her bones, and finally, could not breath and had an ambulance take her to the ER where she was told she had 10 minutes -10 days to live (this was two and a half years ago). She stayed positive and concerned about others throughout all of this. It was amazing. I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to take care of her in her times of need, since she took care of me all throughout my childhood. The amount of pain her death has caused is immeasurable. I truly lost my best friend. The only light at the end of this tunnel is knowing she has reunited with her loved ones in heaven, and she’s no longer is suffering. I know that not a day will go by that she won’t cross my mind. On this year’s National Best Friends Day, hug your loved one. And I will send my hugs to heaven since that’s where my best friend is. Rest in Peace, Nancy Lee. Love today and always, your Laken Lee