I've known Erin since we were uncoordinated, track pant wearing, book nerdy twelve year olds. We have been each other's confidant, bridesmaids, comedians and counsellors. Our lives on the surface are vastly different. She's an artist living urban with her artist man and cuddly pets and going to art exhibitions and being all exciting. I'm a mum of three living in a country backwater who writes when she finds the time after the kids have finally shut the fuck up for the night. You can tell by that sentence right there that the kids have not, perhaps, shut the fuck up for the night.
Under the surface of our very different lives we are still the same people we always were. Just as uncoordinated, just as book nerdy and probably wearing more track pants than we were back in 1990. When Nate was diagnosed one of the hardest parts for me was that some my friends started treated me differently. I was no longer Arlene. I was a mother who was suffering a terrible tragedy and needed to be treated in one of two ways; endless and uncomfortable sympathy, or avoid the autism conversation all together, "don't mention the war".
Erin never did that. I was always Arlene. When I was an angsty teenager, a directionless twenty year old, when I was first a mum and became lost in it all, when I suffered depression, when I became a "special needs parent", when I wanted to drink beer and pretend everything was fine, she was there and never failed in treating me nothing less than Arlene. Everyone needs a friend like Erin. Someone who accepts and supports you with no judgement.
So when Erin told me she'd stitched me something I was excited because she's a brilliant artist and I know that everything she does she puts all her love into, but when I saw it I was completely overwhelmed. In that one stitch she captured everything I value and am grateful for in my life. My family, the support we have, my beautiful friendships.
So now it is totally time to show off the photo.
Thank you to my beautiful friend, Stitchfase. I know I don't say it often enough but I am thankful for the decades of love and friendship you have given me and now I have this to make me smile every single day. Your art is almost as beautiful as you are.