We sat in pristine sands shadowed by titanic sentries dubbed The Twelve Apostles. At the southern end of Australia, I assume they guard against Antarctic penguins, like how The Wall in “Game of Thrones” defended against White Walkers. Maybe an invasion of penguins wouldn’t be bad.
“I can’t believe we’re here,” whispered Josh in worship of the moment. I wished I could bottle the memory in Dumbledore fashion.
Josh is my best friend (yes, forever). We planned our trip to Australia for a classic reason: He had an unexpected and major romantic breakup so he needed to heal. I’m not a sage-quality advice-giver, but he hurt and that hurt me, so I blurted, “Dude, the best way to offset spontaneous bad change is to make spontaneous good change. Like after my breakup, I traveled a bunch.”
Fast-forward a month later and we’re whispering to keep from disturbing the limestone giants’ slumber.
I first met Josh in 10th grade at a Bible study. He was one of the weirdest people I’d ever met. Driving through Taco Bell an hour later with my sister, I said, “You know that Josh guy we met? He’s gonna be my best friend.”
He was home-schooled, so I’d walk to his house after classes. He’d crack jokes (in pajamas) about my enslavement to the school system and I’d parry with jokes about him being an uneducated scrub. (Note: He’s always been smarter than me and I had a bit of Stockholm syndrome so I absolutely loved school.) Josh and I have a weird brotherhood of caustic insults founded upon a decade’s worth of layered inside jokes.
Regardless, we’ve always had each other’s back. In “The Lord of the Rings,” the fellowship’s men tenderly uplift and speak truth of each other’s hearts and capabilities. They sacrificed, hugged, and cried. It’s beautiful. My friendship with Josh is similar.
Josh is the only friend in my high school days who never neglected to visit me in the hospital. After my transplant, he drove 18 hours just to visit me for half a day. He’s the one who took my depression and anxiety seriously while also pushing my boundaries so that I could thrive in the long-term. Josh has taught me several new passions and skills. He tells me I chase the wrong girls and we don’t have secrets, not even when it comes to critiquing each other’s new haircut or piece of art.
Our favorite film to watch together is “50/50,” which is about a friendship thriving in the midst of cancer. The characters laugh and cry, and they insult each other lots while also being honest about each other’s flaws. Yeah, we’ve cried while watching it. It so perfectly depicts us.
We used to see each other all the time in high school. However, in adulthood, I got busy with college and he with his rock band. Also, we both entered long-term relationships — the greatest threat to bromance. We found ourselves catching up after weeks of not seeing each other. We began having secrets and I stopped contacting him when sad.
We talked about this in Australia. Neither of us did anything wrong. We just drifted. It wasn’t until my transplant that we strongly reconnected. I’d realized my proper priorities and he’d realized his best friend had almost died. Then, both of our six-year relationships ended, so we became mutually dependent again. He lives in Hawaii and I live in California, yet we spent nine weeks of the last three months together spread through four trips.
I can’t help wondering how much more bearable my college years would have been if our bond hadn’t loosened. How many dumb decisions would his wisdom have shot down? How much would his laughter have healed me? In Australia, we cheered the ending of our romantic relationships over beers because the pain rejoined us.
I said something so cheesy that we couldn’t stop laughing: “We’re never lost because we’re always exactly where we’re supposed to be.” Cheesy as it is, it means something to us. We lived our lives apart for a long while, but we weren’t really lost. We’d just misplaced priorities. What mattered was that we were together on that beach, thousands of miles from home. What matters is that we picked up “just like old times.”
We ate dinner with two married transplant patients — the wife has new lungs, the husband has new corneas. The wife said she’d had her transplant eight years ago. Josh was wide-eyed.
He didn’t know I could last that long. My bro was probably expecting me to drop dead on that trip.
“I know people who are 27 years out, bro.”
We’re gonna have many more memories together. We might spend less time together one day, but we’ll always find our way back.
Have you lost touch with a friend who fiercely supported you during your CF journey? Call them up. Now, please.
Note: Cystic Fibrosis News Today is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cystic Fibrosis News Today, or its parent company, BioNews Services, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cystic fibrosis.