When your friend, who has stage four cancer wants to go on a road trip and spend time with you, you don’t say no; not that I would have wanted to anyway. When she has a random creative idea about stopping at rest stops along the way to get pictures that match up with lyrics she’s stayed up all night copying onto large sheets of paper and there are no rest stops along your journey, then what? You MAKE a rest stop and that’s exactly what I did. When I travel with my friend Christina there’s never a dull moment and we ALWAYS get lost. Most of the time we’re too busy talking about life, boys, and music, and laughing so hard we can’t breathe to pay much attention to where we’re going. Toots, my GPS, is always “recalculating.” Which makes us laugh even harder.
On our most recent road trip to an MDA benefit rock concert, we were driving down the highway at about 65…okay, okay 75 mph. Christina starts reading me the song lyrics she’s copied down; the lyrics are for songs that local rock bands wrote, for most of whom Christina has become like a member of the family. These lyrics mean something to us. They’re part of Christina’s Kicking Cancer’s Ass playlist. As we climb a hill on the highway, Christina reads one off and says, “We need a sunny rest stop for this one.” Realizing that we haven’t seen a single rest stop on the highway we’re on the whole trip I quickly come to the conclusion that it is now up to me to create my own rest stop. As the car crests the top of the hill, I look out over a median filled to the brim with bright yellow daffodils and think, “perfect!” I swerve wildly from the right lane, into the middle lane and again into the left-hand lane as we quickly approach a gravel patch alongside the road. I slam on my breaks and swerve over onto the gravel, completely ignoring the “for emergency vehicles only” sign, and suddenly we’re surrounded by daffodils. The perfect place for Christina’s picture.
We spring from the car, Christina grabbing the lyrics she wants, and I get my camera ready. Once we get the shot we’re looking for we jump back in the car and hurriedly buckle our seatbelts, but not quickly enough because before I even hear the click of my seatbelt locking into place I glimpse the flashing lights in my rearview mirror.
I glance at Christina and calmly roll down my window. “Hi officer,” I exclaim.
“Everything okay?” he asks.
“Yeah, I’m sorry, my friend just wasn’t feeling well so I pulled over real quick. We were just leaving.” And just like that, he gave us the go-ahead. Going ahead, however, was easier said than done since he blocked my review mirror with his vehicle and I couldn’t see around him. As I finally peeled out, Christina snapped a selfie with the police lights flashing in the background and we were off!
As soon as the cop was out of sight we began laughing hysterically. Christina said, “I didn’t expect you to swerve across two lanes of traffic just to get a picture.”
“It was soo worth it!” I said. And it was. You see, if nothing else, being friends with Christina has taught me that you have to live in the moment and love with all your heart. I couldn’t let that moment, a perfect field of gorgeous yellow daffodils, pass us by and when you love someone you do everything in your power to make those memories last.