Let me tell you a little bit about my friend Toni. I have only known Toni for about a year and a half. She just happened to live in the house across the street from the one we bought in Cranberry Twp. When we bought our house, she and I were both pregnant. I was pregnant with Brady, and she was pregnant with her second child, Dane.
It wasn't until August of 2010 that I really started to get to know Toni. By this time, we were both taking care of infants and sharing stories with each other. We would bounce baby ideas and strategies off of each other. It was nice to have her so close. Our boys have really grown up together and have become good friends. Just the other day, they were riding side by side in Dane's power jeep, enjoying one anothers company. While the boys play, Toni and I talk and catch up on each others day.
When the weather permits, Toni and I usually always walk laps around our neighborhood, pushing the boys in the strollers. We usually clock about 1.5 miles and not a silent moment comes over us. We talk and talk and talk. It is SO nice to have such a great friend who lives so close. Last summer, we would talk about my plans for adding our second child. Jordan consumed a lot of our conservation as I tried to figure out what I would do with Brady when I went into labor. As you could imagin, Toni was the first to offer her time to watch Brady when our time arrived.
Toni and her husband both work full time and raise two children, Dane and Abby. I know how precious her family time is to her and how hectic her schedule can sometimes be. Abby is involved in many after school activities and her husband, Kevin, travels overnight often. I was not suprised when Toni offered to care for Brady while I was in the hospital. That is just the kind of person she is. Little did she know what she really signed up for until November 16th came rolling around.
After I had gone to the hospital for what I thought would be a quick check of Jordan's heart rate, Chad contacted Toni to watch Brady so he could try and make it for the birth of Jordan. Toni stayed with Brady for most of the afternoon while unexprected events unfolded at the hospital. Thursday, Toni came to visit me at the hospital since my in-laws had arrived and were able to watch Brady. I did most of the talking as she listened to me ramble about what had taken place the day before. She added words of encouragement and hope as I spoke. As she left on Thursday night, we had made plans for her to pick me up Friday morning to drive me to Children's to meet/see Jordan. Friday came and I had received several calls from Chad prompting me to come as soon as possible. My gut told me things were not looking good for my sweet son. Toni arrived and helped me into her car. We were in route to Children's when I got the horrifying call that Jordan had passed away. Only Toni and God were with me as I reacted in pure horror, screaming: NO!!!
Tears of sadness ran down our cheeks. We were both at a loss for words. Fifteen minutes later, we arrived at Children's. We walked arm in arm up to the NICU and into Jordan's room. We were raw with emotion as our eyes set on Jordan for the first time. We looked on as Chad held him in his arms. I took a turn holding my sweet angel and then passed him to Toni when I was done admirring him. What a friend! She had seen it all. She was right there with me in the midst of the worst time in my life. She was there to hold my hand, to talk to, to cry with. She knew what had transpired and how I reacted. She was there.
Afterwards, she contacted the Bunco ladies from our neighborhood and organized meals for us. She and the other neighbors bought us a dogwood tree in memory of Jordan. She called me every single day for the first month to check in. She thought about us constantly and wondered how we were doing. She invited us over for Thanksgiving dinner. She continues to call on the 16th of every month. She reads my blog entries as they are posted. She listens to me talk about my grief and offers her support. She has been affected by the death of Jordan as much as I have been. She gets it.
Toni has been so helpful to me during my grief process. I don't know if words can really express how fortunate I am to have such a great friend. I am pretty sure God had a part in us meeting. He knew I would need a friend like her to care for me in my time of need. After all, my long time friends and family were fours hours away.
Just a few weeks ago we got news that Chad's job would be moving us closer to family and old friends. The news was bitter sweet. We were very excited to receive the news, but very upset to be leaving Toni and her family. I know she will only be a phone call away, but knowing I can't walk across the street to talk in person or for a comforting hug will be very hard. I hope and pray that our friendship will last for the long haul. You don't find friends like Toni everyday. We share a common bond, Jordan, and I am certain he will keep us close.