inspirational friendship: preeclampsia awareness month part 2

To kick off our 2-part Pre-Eclampsia Awareness Series, we are welcoming guest writer Bree Housley with today’s post!

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Shelly (left) and me, during her pregnancy

 I am not a mom. Nor do I play one on TV. I did, however, write a book about one. Her name was Shelly Bridgewater, and I know you’d like her. Everyone did. She was only technically a mom for a week, but it counts. It counts more than you can imagine.

Shelly was my best friend growing up. In case you weren’t blessed with a Laverne to your Shirley, a best friend is the five lumps of sugar in your coffee; the Dr. Scholl’s shoe insert for your foot-mangling heels; the zit cream for your day’s little blemishes. In short, life just isn’t as good without her.

Our friendship progressed in the way most childhood friendships do. Slumber parties, stickerbooks, rollerskating, junkfood, BFF necklaces, boyfriends, breakups, marching bands, small-town queen pageants, Subway Sandwich Artistry – okay, not every childhood friendship goes that way, but you get my drift. Shelly and I were inseparable. We spoke our own language. Well, until the day she said the word “preeclampsia.” I didn’t know how to comprehend that one.

This word, this disease, would eventually take her away from me. And her family. And her newborn daughter, Hailey. And well, the whole world. If you’re not familiar with this pregnancy-related condition, it’s defined as a cardiovascular disease that can cause high blood pressure among other complications and can lead to liver failure, heart disease, and even death. 500,000 pregnant women in the US develop preeclampsia each year. It’s a scary thing, but the more we talk about it and get the word out there, the less vicious it becomes.

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Shelly’s daughter, Hailey (10 years old now).

 I always knew I wanted to tell the story of my friendship with Shelly, but the ending was just too sad. So in 2009, my sister and I started a blog project in which we chose a new Shelly-inspired “resolution” each week for a year. By the end of the year, I finally felt like I had faced her death and maybe even healed a bit. My memoir, We Hope You Like This Song: An Overly Honest Story About Friendship, Death, and Mix Tapes was published in 2012. It chronicled the mountains, valleys, and potholes of the project and ultimately celebrated the influence Shelly had on my life.

Writing the book was extremely therapeutic. But it was only the beginning. Little by little, I received email messages from strangers. I heard from people who’d lost a friend or a sister. People who’d lost a baby. Women who’d experienced preeclampsia and barely survived. My social butterfly best friend was once again bringing new people into my life. And she continues to do so. How else would a non-mom like me be welcomed to write a guest post on such an amazing blog?

So today, I want to offer you, my new friends, five of my favorite resolutions:

  1. Compliment a stranger. You’ll be surprised at how good it makes you feel to make 
someone else feel good.
  2. Write someone a letter. Bring back the excitement of passing notes. Human 
handwriting does wonders for tired eyes.
  3. Watch a movie you’re embarrassed you haven’t seen yet. Sure, this one isn’t soul- changing, but it feels good to cross something off your list that’s been there for years. 
(I watched Rocky for the first time last year. I feel like a better person now.)
  4. Call an old friend. Trust me, I know talking on the phone is scary these days. Texting is my favorite invention of the 2000’s. BUT, every once in awhile, hearing voices is a good thing. A very good thing.
  5. Help someone out. Walk a dog, babysit a neighbor’s kid, tie a stranger’s shoe. And 
hey, if you’re not doing anything on Saturday, May 16th, come meet me at the 2015 Dreams Walk. A walk for moms; for families; for the dream. Because every woman deserves a healthy pregnancy. Help us make moms’ health matter.

About the Dreams Walk:

  1. Register today at www.shellydreams.com.
  2. The Dreams Walk will start at Modern Woodmen Park in Davenport, Iowa. It is just about a 1 mile walk. After the walk, join us for family-friendly activities.
  3. There will also be a silent auction to help generate funds to support the foundation.

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