I didn't have an easy childhood. The things that I went through still haunt me to this day - things that I'm just now getting used to talking about, peeling back my clenched fists to expose scarred-anger-sadness-frustration-hopelessness that I have to learn to leave behind in order to be the best person I can be.

But there's people in this world who have suffered so much more than I. Wonderful, broken people who've lost everything and still live. I know one of those people, and she's an inspiration. She's beautiful, kind, generous and loving; much more so than many people I've met who think they are those things. She's had to experience pain I cannot fathom, more than once; yet she's resilient and strong.

My friend just turned 28 last month; and in a few short weeks, she'll be older than her mother or her sister ever grew to be. The stories are tragic; chronic illness that stole two of her three immediate family members and all of the women in her life. A small child who laid with her mother in her hospital bed, unaware of all the things that she would lose, miss, and yearn for as she traveled through her own life. A young adult who stood by her sister as she succumbed to an illness that had plagued her throughout her own young life.

In May, my friend became a mother. Her daughter is a beautiful little person and the light of her life. She's a wonderful mother, as she is a friend, but as she forges through the new world of parenthood, she's haunted by pain. She's tortured by the fear of what she cannot control; the curse of women in her family that she's somehow survived long enough to create a maternal relationship she cannot map. She struggles with the unknown. All of the possibilities, the tragedies, the chances follow her like a spirit; watching her as she lays her child to sleep.

She wants to feel better, she wants to be free. She knows why she's here. But she's built her life on top of a sunken pile of bricks; crafting a facade of strength to hide the sinkhole beneath her. And in order to fix it, she'll have to tear down everything she's standing on slowly, painfully and with care not to lose what's most important.

My friend is a gift to me. She may never realize how much I love her, how dear I hold her, and how close I will be even when the walls of her life are bare wall studs standing alone. I'll do everything I can to share the pain.

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