Or after we parted from our trip to Kentucky, I texted her: "Having a hard time without my arm. Miss you".
You get the picture. I can manage without my arm, but it feels like I'm missing some important part of me.
I'm lucky, though. I have two arms. My friend Amanda (or Manda, as I call her) is my other arm. Heather lives hundreds of miles away, and Manda is in the same state as me, but I don't see either of them nearly enough. Some days I feel like I don't have any arms, and one of them will be there at the other end of the phone, or the email, or text, and then I can function again. They are both friendships where I can go a long time without actually seeing them (or sometimes even speaking) and we can pick up right where we left off.
They are also my sober sisters, my touchstones. They get me. I've known Heather for three years but it feels like I've known her my whole life. Manda I have basically known my whole life - over thirty years.
This past weekend I had the honor of giving Manda her two year sobriety medallion. I've written before about how she helped me get sober, and then a few years later I was able to return the favor.
As I handed her her two year medallion and gave her a hug, I thought about all we've been through together. We've each lost a parent to cancer. We've propped each other up through alcoholism and recovery, through my cancer.
A friendship that started in 1978 when she was new to the neighborhood and came over to help me rake my lawn blossomed into something way bigger than both of us.
As I sat in the audience and listened to her accept her medallion, I marveled at her strength, her radiance, her courage and her heart. She was the party girl, the wise one, the fun one - she drank to have a good time. I was the shy one, the nerdy jock, the people pleaser. I drank to fit in.
Alcohol got us both for a while, but miraculously - and as I watched her up there at the podium I realized holy shit, sobriety is a miracle - we got sober.
Sometimes I forget to remember how lucky I am, that my best friend growing up, the woman who knows me better than I know myself, is also a sober sister. That we both made it out. At least for today. And if we fall away, slip up, the odds of getting back on the beam are so much greater when there are arms out there to reach out to you, help you back up.
Sometimes I forget to remember how blessed I am to have two arms - Heather and Manda - two amazing sober sisters, friends, soul mates and touch stones.
Someday I will be able to post a picture of the three of us together. Someday.
Who are your arms? Have you called them lately? Have you remembered to think about what a blessing they are? Life without arms is possible, but it makes day-to-day life much more difficult.
If you feel like you don't have any arms, it's not hard to get some.
What I find is that the more open I am, the more willing I am to share pieces of myself - vulnerable or frightened pieces of me that I'd rather keep hidden - the more people will open up to me. And some of those people become touch stones, best friends, soul mates.
It's the gift of opening your heart to others, shedding that voice in your head that keeps you from sharing your vulnerabilities or fears, that tells you people don't really want to be your friend, or makes you jealous or resentful.
Because really we're all so similar inside. If we start comparing our insides instead of our outsides, we can have as many arms as we need.