I haven’t posted much about one of my best friends, Vanessa. Our unlikely friendship began almost 12 years ago on the theatre stage of Carolina Forest High School. We have known each other a little longer than 12 years, but the first year was not pleasant.
You see, Vanessa dated my brother their freshman year of high school. If you have a younger sibling, you know how annoying they can be (I being the younger sibling). Vanessa would call my brother and he would call her and spend hours on the phone talking about who knows what. This annoyed me. I had friends to call and Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Hanson to talk about. I disliked Vanessa. She took up too much phone time and she was dating my brother so automatically I thought she was gross.
The next year, I tried out for the school musical. I remember seeing her at tryouts and thinking “oh, great. Just who I want to see.” It was my first year and high school, her and my brother had since broken up but I still didn’t want to see her every week.
God had other plans. At some point during one of the first practices for “Once Upon A Mattress”, we started talking. Slowly, a friendship began to form between us and we haven’t looked back.
Our friendship grew. We went through awkward phases together, many failed relationships (both romantic and friendship), bachelor and master degrees, family drama, we have both survived heart wrenching miscarriages and have had many laughs and many tears.
We have had our disagreements and fights but have always forgiven each other. We have stood by each other during both of our weddings. We have survived despite a 1,200 miles separation (soon to be 2,900 miles as her and her family are relocating to Fort Lewis, Washington). She has taught me what friendship is and has become my sister. We have formed a bond that many people never have.
As our high school theatre teacher, Wayne Canady, used to say, “You are lucky to find two, true friends in your lifetime.” And it is true. But I have found at least one.
So, whenever Vanessa told me that she was pregnant last year, I was elated and scared. She had miscarried two years before during a time in our friendship where we weren’t talking. It was her husband who messaged me about the miscarriage and my heart broke for her.
But she was finally pregnant again. Each week I prayed for her and her little peanut. As each week passed I was always relieved to know that mama and baby were doing well. Then we found out she was having a baby girl and we rejoiced. I was able to fly out in November to see her and her pregnant belly. I got to see her waddle like a duck and glow. Having a pregnant friend that is far away is so, so hard. I wanted to be able to walk with her through the pregnancy, to touch her belly and feel the kicks, to laugh at her when she couldn’t get up off the sofa but then eventually lend a hand. Luckily, I got to do all of that during my brief stay in Oklahoma.
Baby Lana Josephine Keating was born on December 23 at 9:28 pm. She was 8 lbs and 21 1/2 inches long. She is the most beautiful baby girl I have ever seen! I cannot wait until she gets older so I can tell her all of the shenanigans that her mom and I used to get into. (After she is 21, of course).
Congratulations, Rory and Vanessa on bringing a beautiful baby into the world. I pray that she grows up to have the same integrity and beautiful soul that both of you possess.