I had a sister once. (I still do have one blood relative sister, she’s amazing, alive and well in Long Island, love you Deb.) This sister was not blood, but we shared a brain and a heart. I met her when I helped launch a morning show in Indianapolis. I was the anchor she was the entertainment reporter. Shireen was the most beautiful woman I’d ever seen in person. Women in TV do not have the best reputations. We’re said to be catty, backstabbing bitches who’d climb over your cold dead body to get our next gig. Not always true. (Just sometimes.) But she had me beat, hands down in everything. She was prettier, had more life experience, was more confident, seemed to know how to do TV when I was just a 27-year-old pixie haircut, lucky to have a job. I could not compete, so I learned from her. She was a former beauty queen, she taught me about lipstick. She was divorced, I was married to my high school sweetheart, we debated love. She was an Iranian-American, she taught me how to tame my Jew-fro. She modeled in NYC, she extolled the benefits of the walking lunge for a great butt. (Totally works.) She grew up on a horse farm in New Mexico, I was in awe. (Suburban NJ could not compete.)
Almost from the moment we met we were friends. We did a morning show so we were up at 3am, done by noon. Our lives were work, gym, eat, shopping, sleep. My husband traveled a lot so Shireen and I did everything together. When you’re sleep deprived, in a strange city, still trying to figure out life, you get close fast. My two years in Indy flew by and Minneapolis-FOX29 came calling so I bid the Circle City farewell and left my friend to fly north. We stayed in touch… a little. Life got in the way. My kid, her new job, my career changes, her new husband, my marriage stress, her tragedy, my second kid, her divorce, my third kid, her failing health, my divorce. It took a toll.
I did contact her once and asked her why she didn’t reach out to me with big news in her life, she said she was afraid I’d judge her. Ouch. Clearly I was an evil, crappy, judgmental person, (see definition of ‘women in TV’ above) who didn’t deserve to be her friend. When things got really bad for me, I thought of Shireen often. I wanted to reach out, hear her voice, but I was afraid it was too late and afraid of rejection.
Until last week.
I was going to Miami for a weekend getaway. Shireen lives there and her pull on me was inescapable. I was dying to see her, hug her, cry to her, tell her everything, and hear her everything. I missed her so much. I was so nervous.
Thirteen years evaporated. Here she was, my sister. No judgments, no boundaries, sometimes we didn’t even need words to express feelings. I felt bad for the people we were with, they no longer existed. We spoke our own language and felt all the emotions of the stories we told each other. I was surprised at how many times tragedy touched both of our lives over the years and how we’d both learned similar lessons and emerged stronger. She told her boyfriend that I had a big influence on her adult life. I was shocked and honored. Then I was mad that I had wasted so much time. There are only so many people in your life who you can share your heart with so openly. Only so many connections that strong. Friends, true ones, real ones, the sisters, should not fall victim to miles or minutiae. I should have been there for her a thousand times in the last 13 years and I was not. That, I regret. My other sisters (blood and otherwise) will tell you I always say “Regret is a useless emotion”, and it’s true. So no more regret, just renewal. Thankfully Shireen and I are good at forgiveness, we’ve both had lots of practice.
Sometimes seeing an old friend takes you back, you reminisce, talk about old times, remember when your friendship was strongest. But when that old friend truly shares your heart, when your souls are really connected, it’s hard to see the future without them.