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  • Kelly Marks

Fire Alarms

I’ve been wanting to tell you this for a long time, but the words wouldn’t come. Or maybe too many words were clamoring around my head trying to get out. I think that’s what happens when you feel something very deeply. And this I feel very deeply about. My Friends. I have been more blessed with amazing friends than any person has a right to be.


On the very first day of kindergarten I met the girl who would become my best friend. We were inseparable till the 7th grade when we had to go to different schools. We grew apart somewhat, but we are still friends today and see each other a couple of times each year. It’s been 48 years.


As an adult I’ve met some amazing and wonderful women. They are all ages, living all types of lives, and I don’t think I could get through my life without them. They sat with me as I cried when Madison went off to kindergarten, and they came to a socially distanced party for her high school graduation. They are spiritual, funny, supportive, and loving. These friends have lifted me up when I was so tired I could barely stand, and they have jumped for joy with me when good news arrived.


But notice the gap between the last two paragraphs. The first was kindergarten, and the last was adulthood. Sandwiched between those two times is college. I’m still in touch with a lot of people I went to school with but one specifically. She’s been a major part of my life for over 30 years. That’s hard to believe. First, that I’m that old, and second, that she would put up with me for that long.


We have been through most of our major life events together. We had only known each other for a year and a half when we each lost a close family member over the Christmas break and were still reeling when we returned to college for the next semester. I remember sitting in a dark movie theater together watching Steel Magnolias - a movie that will cause even the most stoic person to at least tear up. We were sobbing uncontrollably but not embarrassed in the least because we had each other and true empathy.


I fear I have not been as good of a friend to her as she has been to me. She is my biggest cheerleader. And If I am down or even just less than chipper, she will make a list of things guaranteed to turn my day around. She is upbeat and sunny despite the burdens she carries with ailing parents, an exhausting job, and a 1000 other demands placed on her time. She is wickedly smart, witty, and darkly funny.


Of all the ways she has been there for me and with me, this is the one that I will never forget. We happened to be sitting on opposite sides of a church during a funeral service. It was not your typical service. There was a lot going on under the surface and as a result it was extremely tense and uncomfortable. My phone vibrated, and I looked down at it and read: “Just say the word, and I’ll pull the fire alarm. I’ll do it, I swear.”


And just like that, it was the funniest funeral I ever attended.



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