Last weekend I drove up to Vermont to visit my good friend from college, Allison. It was her birthday yesterday and we had a great weekend hanging out and catching up. We graduated about 11 years ago from Saint Michael’s in Vermont, where Al is from. I moved back to Boston after graduation, but we have kept in close contact ever since.

When I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2007, Al was there. It was a Friday afternoon when I got the call from my doctor telling me that I had breast cancer. Al arrived to spend the weekend about two hours later. We had plans to go to a Red Sox game the next day. When she got there, my mom and I were in my living room crying and trying to process the news.

I was so grateful that Al happened to be in town that weekend to spend with me. I really needed her then. I lived alone at the time and it was nice to have someone in my apartment with me when I was so scared and unsure of myself. I know that was probably a very tough weekend for her too.

During the course of my treatment I had three surgeries and five chemotherapy sessions. Each time, a few days before, when I was at my most nervous and upset, I would get a package in the mail addressed to Queen April sent from Wonderful Me. It was always the same: pajamas. The most appropriate gift imaginable. Always baggy, with the top a size larger than the bottom for extra comfort where I needed it. There was nothing like coming home sick, tired, or sore from the hospital and putting on a brand new soft pair of comfy pajamas. I could actually feel the love wrapped around my body like a hug. I knew my friend cared.

I do have some wonderful friends who were there for me throughout my treatment, but none as consistently or quite as thoughtful as Al was. They say that it takes a tragedy to figure out who your true friends are. For me, it took an illness to confirm my truest friend.

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