A Letter To My First Best Friends

A Letter To My First Best Friends

I'm so grateful to have you.

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I met my first best friends when I was too young to remember.

When I was two years old, my great-grandma recommended a small, old, Irish-themed resort in the Catskills Mountains in upstate New York. My parents took my sister and I up for one week in August (Kids Rule Week), and, when we arrived, we saw this rundown playground with one swing set and a playhouse. While my parents were apprehensive about our stay, my sister and I couldn't be more thrilled- there was a PLAYGROUND for crying out loud! We jumped out of the car and ran to the playground, happy to spend the next five days on the swing sets that seemed to be ready to break any minute.

Throughout the years of our weeks at Gavin's, I found myself a group of friends that I would eventually come to view as sisters. Their names are Ciara, Kaylee, Bridget, and Anna, and I hold each one of them as near to my heart as I can.

Each of their families has made me feel like I am one of their own flesh and blood, and my family treats them all with a similar courtesy. Their families make sure to include me in everything, whether it's visiting Howe Caverns for my first time, spending the whole day at Zoom Flume, even including me in all their family pictures. Every year we go-kart, we go to water parks, we sing karaoke, and we just enjoy each other's company.

We would spend so much money at the go-kart track every year. This place was also very rundown, with no helmets and race cars that had to be tuned up after every race and never ran the same speed, but it gave us such an adrenaline rush like no other. Ciara, the youngest of our friend group, would drive her cart like a madman, and we were all terrified for the day she was able to be on the road.

She got her license in January, and driving with her is so funny to me because all I can picture is the crazy little redhead knocking everyone into the side of the track.

Bridget is an amazing dancer with so much dedication to her sport. She just graduated high school and is starting college this fall.

Anna is graduating from college in the coming spring as a teacher, and she already has her own classroom of young students that absolutely adore her!

Ciara just won class president for her senior class and will be giving a speech at graduation. She is absolutely brilliant and was even featured in 17 Magazine for her organization of a school walkout back in March.

Kaylee was class president throughout high school and is so dedicated to everything she puts her time into. She is absolutely one of the friendliest, most caring people I've ever met.

Bridget and Kaylee are even going to school together now- how I WISH I could spend time with them there!

We have grown up together as a family- we have laughed together, we have cried together, we have pulled all-nighters together, we have stayed up until 3 am talking about our fears for the future and for our education. I know that I can go to them with anything and trust them with knowing the deepest, most vulnerable parts of me.

I yearned for the summers because that meant I was that much closer to Gavin's and that much closer to seeing my best friends. Until we were older, we only saw each other once a year for five days. Other than that, we would email back and forth, making sure to use the brightest and craziest fonts we had available to us. As we grew up, we were able to drive back and forth to each other- we lived within an hour of each other, but it seemed so much further when we were little.

Every year that I have been able to go to Gavin's has been better than the last, and that's because of my girls.

Once I moved, these visits became minimal yet again, but even more cherished than before.

I haven't been to Gavin's since I moved to Florida, but I think about the next time I can go back every day. I hope one day I can give my kids the same amazing experience I was able to get from going to Gavin's.

I write this to thank them for being the most fantastic people I have ever met; all of you have such courage, such vibrancy, such brilliance inside each and every one of you, and I am so grateful to have been a part of all of your journeys for so long. You each have done so much for me in your own ways, and just thinking about the next time we can all be together again brings joy to my heart.

Things now are so different than they were when we were young- we have all experienced hardships since the days of us running around the playgrounds and having bonfires in the fields. We are all on the brink of adulthood, but our memories at Gavin's will never change and will keep us bonded forever.

I love you all with everything in me and am so glad to have such a wonderful and supportive group of sisters.

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An Open Letter To My Unexpected Best Friend

You came out of nowhere and changed my life for the better.
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“It’s so amazing when someone comes to your life and you expect nothing out of it but suddenly there right in front of you is everything you ever need.”

-Unknown

Dear Unexpected Best Friend,

You were the person I never thought I would speak to and now you are my very best friend. You came out of nowhere and changed my life for the better. I can’t thank you enough for everything you have done to shape me into the person I am today. You’ve taught me what it means to be selfless, caring, patient, and more importantly adventurous.

You don’t realize how much better my life has become and all because you came out of nowhere. I didn’t see you coming. I just saw you on occasion, and now I can’t see my life without you in it. It’s funny how life works itself out like that. Our unexpected friendship filled a hole in my life that I didn’t know existed.

I don’t even remember what life was like before you came along; it most likely had a lot less laughter and spontaneity than it does today. I can call you about anything and you would drop whatever you're doing to help me in any situation. You know when I need encouragement. You know when I am at my best and when I am at my worst. You always know exactly what to say.

SEE ALSO: 8 Tiny Lies Every Young Woman Has Told Their Best Friend

I couldn’t have found a better friend than you if I tried. We balance each other out in the best way possible. You are most definitely the ying to my yang, and I don’t care how cliché that sounds. Because of you, I’ve learned to stop caring what people think and to do my own thing regardless of any backlash I might receive. You are my very favorite part of what makes me who I am to this day.

It’s as if I wished up a best friend, and poof—you appeared right in front of me. I am so beyond blessed to have you and I wouldn’t trade the world for all our memories. Thanks for coming out of nowhere.

Love you forever and a day.

Cover Image Credit: Lauren Medders

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#SamanthaStrong

A great friend, an amazing Christian, a role model.

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I never thought that I would find myself making so many calls home so early in the semester but there I was, asking the phone to my ear "are you okay?"

I guess tragedies like to strike in multiples.

Not long after Florence swept through my hometown, leaving some areas more devastated than others, another terrible event struck a little closer to home. On September 22, 2018, the Union Pines Cross Country team began the Hare & Hounds Invitational meet in Charlotte like any other meet.

Nobody expected that to be a life-changing day.

On September 22, Senior Samantha Davis suffered a seizure, followed by cardiac arrest, at the 4K mark. She was quickly transferred to Novant Presbyterian Medical Center and that was the first I had heard of the event.

In fact, I was with my family for Family Weekend. We were all sitting down to lunch when my little brother showed us the Snapchat story explaining what had happened and asking for much-needed prayers. I didn't know what to do, what to say, what to feel.

All I could do was think "I know her, this can't be real. This can't be happening, she's such an amazing, sweet person. That can't be right." I was friends with people on the Cross Country team that ran with her, she would stop by track practices in the Spring to say hello as we were running, she was an active member of the band alongside some of my closest friends from high school.

She would ask me about my brother at football games. My best friend's younger sister was one of her best friends.

I knew that the call I received just after midnight was not good. I remember waking up around 3 AM on September 23rd and crying. I never thought I'd cry just because of the words "Missed Call" but I did that night. I bawled, curling up on the floor by my desk and trying to stay quiet in a pitch black room.

I wanted everything to be okay, for it to all work out. I had prayed so hard and all that those two words seemed to tell me that none of it seemed to work. It didn't stop me from continuing to pray for the family, but I still felt angry and confused. I knew what that missed call meant, even if I tried to deny it, tried to convince myself that it wasn't true.

Thankfully, I realized that this was similar to the anger I felt when my grandfather passed in June. I felt just as angry then. I didn't understand why my prayers didn't work, why it all seemed to take a turn for the worst just when I had started to think everything would be okay. I never felt abandoned by my God, but I couldn't help but ask why.

Why did this have to happen? Why didn't it seem to work? Why now? Why couldn't I understand? Why did I feel so angry when I know that God has a plan for all of us and everything that happens, happens for a reason?

Just why?

This time, I am almost certain I understand why.

Perhaps it wasn't so much those words, but the ones that followed on my voicemail and text messages. I can't stand hearing anyone cry but hearing my best friend try to hold back tears and ask me to call her back broke me. I cried and responded to her text, forgetting the fact that it was three in the morning.

She replied immediately. Neither of us was okay.

But we had each other, we had our families, and we wanted to show our support in any way that we could.

That day, Moore County lost an amazing young soul. Even though I only had a few interactions with Sam, I knew that she was a tender-hearted, dedicated Christian soul and that's not something you see very much anymore. I cannot recall anyone mentioning Sam without saying something about how friendly and warm she was, how caring she was, how dedicated she was in sports, school, and band. I never heard anything but positive thoughts about how much of a Christian life she lead in all areas of her life.

As much as it physically hurt, I had to know what things were like at home. I knew the pain I felt would only be amplified in Moore County.

Sam was such an active part of the community, I knew that this tragedy would affect the entire county. I worried about all of the students at school the next week, all of the band kids at their first competition just a week later, my friends back home, my family back home, all of the band and track alumni. Regardless of where they were, I began to worry about people all around the world that I had not even thought of in 2 and a half years.

Tragedy does strange things to people. Some people go into grave stages of mourning and retreat from their loved ones, some find themselves listless and unproductive for days, some find themselves more productive than ever, just trying to find a distraction from the realities that such painful events bring to the surface.

Personally, it brings out my maternal side. When tragedy strikes, all I want to do is be home and comfort those that are grieving.

It's all the more painful to me that I cannot take on this desire as easily as I wish simply due to the fact that I am roughly 70 miles away from home. Sure, that doesn't seem far for other High Point students, making hundred-plus mile journies for the semester, but it might as well be the other side of the world when things like this impact my hometown.

I began to feel lost and a little anxious that there was no way I could comfort my hometown from so far away. This made me feel guilty. Was I even trying? Wasn't there something I could do to show that, although I no longer live in Moore County for most of the year, I will always claim it as my home?

Yes, there was.

After a brief period of painful introspect, I began to realize that Samantha's passing can not only teach us a lot about living but about how to live well, live for the benefit and growth of others. To put it simply, how to live a Christian life in a very nonreligious world.

It's important to me and I have a good feeling it was important to her as well, so I wanted to at least attempt to put into words a few things that I have come to realize in the past few days.

In just 17 years, Sam touched the lives of many people. She was not only an active member in both Union Pines athletics and Marching Band but a dedicated student and an amazing friend. You didn't have to know her well to know that she was the kind of person you wanted to be around as often as possible because she made you believe in yourself, made you believe that the world is still a wonderful place to be...all you have to do is smile and focus on the positive.

Just through watching the relationship between her and my best friend's little sister grow taught me so much about what it meant to be a friend. It's been amazing to see how many people have shared a similar relationship as they mourn. Many of these people said that she was their first friend after moving to Moore County, some of them struggling with their own battles and losses. Sam, you may have been younger than me but you taught me what it meant to be a warm, friendly person to those that needed it most.

All in all, Sam taught our entire county (and beyond) what it meant to go be a dedicated participant in life, to be a devoted Christian, to be a friend.

And, as proven by all of the posts on her Facebook page, she taught so many people the importance of going the extra mile, regardless of whether that means pushing through a tough race, retaking a playing test, teaching a stubborn person about the love of God, or just being a friend.

Sam, I didn't know you that well but your life has taught me so many things and I hope that I have made my own thoughts and reflections clear in this article because I want nothing more than I want others to come to the same realizations. Life is beautiful, but you never know just how short it can be.

All that means is to do everything in the name of improving life for others, making another person feel a little bit better in their skin and in their current situation.

Moore County, I am proud of all that you (and other counties) have done to come together and support the Davises. Sam was a bright soul, full of happiness and my heart goes out to her family and friends. I want each and every one of them to know that she was an incredible young woman and I wish I had taken a chance to get to know her better but, even though I did not get that chance, her life has taught me so much and brought me even closer to God in this difficult time.

To the Davis family, I pray for peace and comfort in the coming weeks and I want you to know that there is an outpouring of prayer and love coming from High Point University, from myself and numerous others.


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https://www.facebook.com/UnionPinesMarchingVikings/photos/a.1395475660664765/2180063358872654/?type=3&theater;

For anyone that would like to help me in supporting the Davis family from outside of Moore County, there is a GoFundMe to help relieve the financial stress placed on the family.

Another way to support the family is to participate in the tag #1KFORSAMANTHADAVIS by running one kilometer, representing the kilometer that Sam was unable to complete on that day, to honor the memory of a loving and devoted runner, softball player, band member, student, Christian, and friend.

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