Sarah Sez: Everyone needs a Derek in their lives
My best friend Derek turned 35 on Wednesday, Jan. 21. It’s hard for me to believe that we’ve been best friends for 30 of those 35 years. Anyone who knows me knows that one of my favorite things to say is “Everyone needs a Derek.” If everyone had someone like Derek in their lives, this world would be a better place for sure.
I met Derek in kindergarten at the United Church of Christ in River Falls in 1985. We were both placed at the naughty table, which for me back then was no big surprise. If I remember correctly, we were being punished for not sharing the classroom playhouse. Little did Mrs. Kinzel know what she had done. From that moment on, Derek and I became inseparable. It was just the icing on the cake to discover that we lived across the field from each other. I could even hear his mom yelling at his brother if the wind was in the right direction.
Derek’s mother was never too fond of me when we were growing up because I was a rough and tumble tomboy who was impulsive and fond of pushing the limits. Derek, while not my complete opposite, has always been the much more reserved one in our friendship. Over the years he has reigned in my dramatic, hyper enthusiasm and I have helped him overcome his shyness. I like to think I’ve made his life more exciting and unpredictable. He probably just blames me for the threads of gray at his temples.
Derek has been a steadfast person in my life, which has been a blessing in a life so wrought with uncertainty. Whenever I was waiting for the bottom to drop from beneath me, I knew his hand would be there to pull me back up if I should fall. Or slap me (figuratively) if I needed a wake up call.
He rejoiced with me when I met my dad’s family for the first time. He waited anxiously when I delivered my daughter via emergency C-section and was thrilled when he was named her godfather (a duty he takes very seriously). He came to the hospital and waited with our family when we made the terrible decision to take my grandfather off life support and allow him to slip away to where there is no pain.
He helped me paint my grandparents’ kitchen (an arduous chore), shoveled my driveway when I wasn’t able, took me to my hernia surgery and helped me move at least six times. He has raised my spirits, prayed with me and made me realize that life will go on through many terrible times, including my divorce last year. In other words, he has been there through all the joy, pain and everything in between. Including driving to North Carolina with me on a whim because I felt like it and had four days off from work and school in a row.
Many people have asked us both why we never married each other, and the answer is simple. We have never seen each other in a romantic light, but rather as a brother/sister relationship. Like Derek has said, “when I get tired of you and we’re annoying each other, I can go home.” That kind of straightforward talk has always been a staple in our friendship. We can say anything and know the other will not be offended. You can be soul mates of a sort without being in a relationship with that person.
Derek knows when my temper flares to just back off and let me be and I’ll be calm within five minutes. He knows when I’m embarrassed I get angry, so to just again let me be for a few minutes. He also knows that when I’m deliriously happy I will rattle on in great detail and he always listens patiently. He accepts me as I am and doesn’t ask me to change, as others have done. He will call me out when I need to be called out, but he knows when to keep quiet too. That is a rare and valuable quality, in my opinion.
He would rather give his money to charity, his church and missionary work than buy anything new for himself. He doesn’t like a fuss to be made over him, not for his birthday, for Christmas, or ever. He would prefer to slip through life under the radar, quietly doing good where he can with no credit. Again a rare quality in this day and age where so many clamor to be patted on the back.
He will probably want to kill me when he finds out he was the topic of my column. But you only turn 35 once and there is only one Derek. No one makes me laugh as hard or understands my sense of humor. No one else drops everything to help me and my daughter at any time of the day or night. Now maybe you can see why I think everyone should have a Derek.
Sarah Young has been a reporter with the New Richmond News since October 2013.