Friday, September 30, 2011

Three Little Birds

Who really knows what events in life will change you forever and who will be there to help you through them; sometimes, more than once. 

We were seven years old, standing in a circle holding hands with a group of girls, each taking a turn introducing ourselves,
all the while wearing big smiles excited about the week ahead.

I met Katie Minzey McCormick for the first time at Camp Eberhart in Three Rivers, Michigan with my twin sister, Vanessa, over 33 years ago.  We were cabin mates and became fast friends known that week as the Three Musketeers.

Contrary to what most people think...good things happen in three's. 

At the time, my impressions of Katie were that I loved her smile and her infectious personality.  We wanted to be around her and were drawn to her spirit.  She was so much fun and she seemed to understand us.  Two shy girl’s who looked alike, dressed alike, had the same mannerisms and yet were and are very different people.  We were inseparable and she created the yin to our double yang.  That element of balance that evened out our 'sameness.' She knew her way around the camp as if it were her second home, taking us under her wing.  Vanessa and I gravitated toward her and are forever grateful for that little oasis nestled on Corey Lake. 

Years went by and we reconnected in high school.  Pool rats that spent countless hours in the water; we were swimmers while Katie a diver.  All too often, we were reprimanded for making signs to communicate to one another from pool to diving well.  Logging so much time in the water, we wore little makeup and continue to find that a bohemian, laid back, natural style suits us all. 

While Vanessa chose IU, Katie and I became roommates at Butler University.  The beginning of a life changing and difficult journey for me as I lost my shadow and was thrust into individuality.  We sacrificed the security of duality to find the inevitable lone wolf lurking within each of us.  It was no longer, the twins, but Melissa.  Katie boarded the express train of comfort during a difficult first week with me constantly in tears afraid to find the courage to stand alone.  She assumed the role without hesitation and picked me up and gave me the backbone to be myself. 
As odd as it sounds while I spell out my personal experience, she may be hearing my feelings told out loud for the first time now. 
We pledged the same sorority and found that similar college lifestyle so many students do.  Four years of adventures, rotating sweat pants, Greek lettered sweatshirts, jeans, little to no makeup, spring breaks at the beach and an unforgettable journey. 

Four years quickly passed and after college I began to lead the life of a rolling stone collecting no moss.  Taking one opportunity after another and leading me to over seven states and countless cities; losing touch over the course of 17 years.
I kept a natural look favoring a modern meets haute-hippie-style.  I gravitated towards simple, clean lines, jeans, layers, sundresses and lots of jewelry. 
Katie found love, married and now has two beautiful girls.  Her chaotic lifestyle begs for a relaxed, easy look and she favors an outdoorsy-style wardrobe and no makeup; she doesn’t need it. 

Facebook brought us all back together four years ago and we picked up, without skipping a beat, right where we left off.  In October, 2010 our father's health had declined.  I came back to Indiana for the month to care for him. 
I told Katie I was in town, we grabbed coffee and it was as if a day hadn't gone by. She was the same girl I remembered.  Naturally beautiful, wearing the same big smile.  Her simple, laid-back style reflects her easy going nature and positive attitude.  A genuine friend with one of the best laughs, ever.
The entire month, I sat vigil all day, every day.  She would text me encouraging thoughts and often came to get me for lunch.  We spent time reminiscing and talking about old times.  Good friends reminding each other of our past spent together.  Do you remember you remember that? What a gift for me at a time when life seemed to be going black.

I won't forget it, lunch at The Vine two days before I was to head back to Utah. I told her I was scared. He told me he was ready.  I didn't want to think about life without my dad.  Yet, she reached for my hand...looked me in the eye and said no matter what happened...she would be pick up the pieces of my heart that would undoubtedly be broken in a million pieces and slowly help me put it all back together.   And she has done more than that. 

When all was lost she helped me build a new life.  Create a stronger foundation and get a better sense of myself.  A friend, who is more like a sister, especially, without my twin nearby.  I love her zest for life.  Her sense of adventure.  Her constant quest for trying new things and insatiable appetite for fun.  She makes me laugh so hard I cry.  She reminds me often I'm so much prettier when I smile.  I love her for helping me discover all that isn't lost.  For all that I can remember and cherish.  I am so lucky to have gained so much at a time of such loss.

Life offers us a short journey to find and build relationships that help shape who we are and who we continue to become.  The three of us celebrated our milestone 40th birthday together this year.  We have an adventure already planned in Napa at the end of October to celebrate our dad.  We will not only celebrate his life; but our friendship.  A friendship that is stronger now than it ever was.

All three of us lean towards a natural, easy approach to makeup and style, yet are encouraged by our sense of selves.  Mixing confidence with simplicity creates our daily wear.  We are finding that at 40, we look complete, holding hands, wearing our big silly smiles and more often than not, laughing our big belly laughs until we cry.  

I can't wait for the next 40 years!  I can feel the wind beneath our wings.


  1. I'm speechless in a good way! I love you Mel!!

  2. So very sweet, and I remember you two as Blazers!

  3. Mel, this was such an incredibly beautiful post. You're lucky to have such a close friend like this. They're really rare and hard to find.