Belly Button Rings and Hugh Grant
When Olivia made the Honor Roll, Donna promised they’d pierce their belly buttons. The report card arrived. The news wasn’t good…C+ in History. Thumbs flying, Olivia texted Donna. “She says I worked hard. We’re still going!” Always one to pick my battles with this teen daughter, I agreed.
Hours later, Donna pulled her pickup into my driveway. Olivia flashed her pierced belly to her sisters while Donna kicked off her workboots and opened my well-stocked pantry, sighing with pleasure…and relief.
“Thank Gawd,” she drawled, lifting her t-shirt to reveal a toned, un-pierced 49-year-old belly. “Dodged a bullet this time, Patti.”
Donna has been my best friend since kindergarten.
She’s a freewheeling, smart, smartass who blends perfectly with my by-the-book, somewhat ladylike persona. While Donna put herself through military school digging clams in Quincy Bay, I filed papers in a Boston office and got an English degree at a Catholic women’s college.
I later married my high school sweetheart and had three kids. Donna became a power systems engineer who drives a Harley and can fix anything. Even me.
In 2000, Donna stepped from her own tragedy into mine. She’d just escaped an isolating, abusive marriage and I was newly diagnosed with lymphoma and about to have a stem cell transplant. Without missing a beat, Donna plotted my treatment on Excel, traded off-color jokes with the nurses and lay next to me watching Notting Hill, coaxing a fight when she called my beloved Hugh Grant a “pansy.”
Gradually, we healed and laughter returned.
11 years later, I’m still cancer-free. Donna is happily single, an indulgent aunt and unstoppable friend. Together we’re tackling family issues (her parents, my three teenagers), having pedicures and looking forward to turning 50. And there’s whispers of matching belly button rings.
Patti Murray DiBona is a freelance copywriter for marketing materials in Braintree, Massachusetts where she lives with her husband and three daughters.
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