Bestie and the Heart

If it wasn’t for my Lanie…I would be hiding the little bit of light I may have under a bushel.  

Alana Cairns (aka Lanie) and I found each when we were 13. We spent as few hours apart as possible: if she wasn't at my house, I was at hers, and through our friendship, we discovered our whole selves.  I will never feel complete without her.

Lanie is everything I am not. She is petite, cute, serene, dry-humored and funny as hell. Lanie hates fuss where I dine out on it. She's been my best friend and my closest family through puberty and rejection, puppy love and real love, jobs and careers, seeing the world, living 8000 to 12000 miles away from each other, step-children, tragic deaths and worst of all…through her very scary health challenges, all of which she championed, uncomplaining.

Lanie had a heart attack. So did both her parents. And three of her four brothers all have stents. Only one brother and I got lucky...so far, so good. Where Lanie suffers silently, I am a self-confessed hypochondriac. I often think I may be on the verge of a heart attack – my jaw aches and my chest is heavy. Fifteen years ago a colleague hurried me to the closest heart-attack-haven: The Fire Station to get checked out. I spent the full hour apologizing to two hunky firemen administering the EKG that I wasn't wearing my most beautiful bra. Consider how I would have to double my efforts now -  to appropriately apologize for my tired old boobs! Best I stick to the standard evaluation methods in a doctor's office! This week I was convinced I was on the brink of imminent collapse.

My mother would have called me a drama queen. My husband is too nice to call me names. That's another reason I married him. The doctor assured me (again) that I was healthy as a horse except for my most unattractive stress rash on my chest. So I left the office with a scarf in 79 degree Florida weather. An angry red chest is a fabulous excuse for a little flair.

At home, I assured my husband, "Doc says I'm fine," and then it slipped out, “but considering my history of heart disease…” He looked confused like he'd missed something really important, “What history?” he asked. And then it hit me. Lanie is not my blood. I have been crying “Cairns!” (the equivalent of "Wolf" in heart-speak) for years, never clicking that her beloved family is mine by choice!

Now I can officially stop worrying about myself and focus instead on how incredibly lucky I am to have been dubbed a Cairns. Hell, I was happy to accept the bad gene as my price to pay for being one of the clan!