Laughter rang throughout the courts during a relaxed tennis practice. It was a perfect warm afternoon when an intense cry of pain sliced through the sounds of joy and happiness. Before everyone’s eyes could lock on the troubled girl, I knew who it was. I’d known that voice since we were three years old. As tennis balls dropped to the ground, neglected, yet still their bouncy selves, I found myself running toward my best friend of fourteen years as she crouched down holding her right shoulder. It was that September day in 2007 that my view of the most important emotion in the entire world changed.
Toward the end of our high school freshman year, my best friend Katie was diagnosed with hyper-mobility in her right shoulder, meaning she was too flexible. Throughout high school she attended physical therapy and shoulder surgery was always a possibility. So, when Katie’s cry echoed off the surrounding classrooms, I knew it was her shoulder and something had gone terribly wrong. As unnatural as her arm looked, it was her face that terrified me the most. Never in all the time we’d known each other had I seen such tears of worry, pain, and agony pouring down her usually optimistic, friendly face.
While our coach carried her to a nearby table I did the only practical thing I could think of; I called her mom. Katie almost demanded I go with her to the hospital, which pleased me. Nothing could have kept me away from her in this time of need, even if I had to run to the hospital from across town. Despite careful driving, every pot hole and bump we hit caused Katie to whimper and my worry to grow.
While in the Emergency Room watching doctors attempt and fail to pop her shoulder back into place, I stood helplessly alongside her mom. The doctors could not realign her shoulder and every try brought another cry of pain from Katie and tears to my eyes. The worry and fear I felt inside was strong, but a feeling stronger and more powerful was emerging. I felt a stronger love for my best friend than I had ever felt for anyone. Katie’s well-being became my most important focus, as a feeling of selflessness overcame me.
When the doctor requested we leave the room, I unwillingly walked outside the ER. Straining to hear any whimper or cry from my best friend, I flashed back to what made us best friends to begin with. First grade was when I received glasses. The first day wearing my over-sized, circular frames, I was nervous that kids at school would tease me, and while some did, it was Katie who stuck by my side at recess. While it doesn’t seem like such a huge gesture of friendship, it was in first grade. Since then we’ve shared laughter, secrets, and so many experiences.
Once my best friend had her shoulder relocated with a sling holding her right arm in place, relief and another more powerful feeling overtook me: love. I don’t mean the love that overcomes someone when attraction is involved; the love I experienced was a love that included unconditional acceptance, caring, and the understanding that we would be the best of friends forever. This unfailing love, without any sexual desire clouding or confusing my judgement made for the most powerful and pure love of all. I will never forget that warm September afternoon when I came to believe that a most powerful love can evolve from friendship.
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