TANYA STRONG

I never realized how strong private school bonds were until I left in the sixth grade. Up until then, I had grown up with the same 20-something kids. We endured everything together on every end of the emotional spectrum. One day we all loved each other and the next day we were divided against each other. But the one thing that always remained was our faith. We were at a Catholic school so we were surrounded by religious teachings given by [intimidating] nuns. Because of this, we were reminded that we were a family and that no matter what happens, we will always be there for each other.

I begged my parents to let me try out public school because I wanted to experience what it was like to walk to school with my neighborhood friends. The idea came to me when I saw two of my neighborhood friends asking each other for help and exchanging notes and then making plans to walk to school in the morning. Asking for notes and tutoring was something I could do with my private school friends, but we all lived in different parts of the city. Walking to school was definitely out of the question for most of us. So there was something about the neighborhood connection that I was slightly envious of. I was blessed enough to have the support of my parents who were low-key hoping I’d hate public school but it backfired. I ended up loving it!

When I made the transition, I actually kept in touch with a few of my classmates. But then life started happening and as you can imagine, we all started to drift. I started growing closer with my public school friends and all my private school friends stuck together as well. However, thanks to MySpace and Facebook, we were all able to reconnect.

It was then that I was reminded that all the friends I had lost contact with were, in fact, still my friends.  Most of us picked up where we left off, but it was still difficult to maintain some friendships because at this point we were going off to college and adulting. But, there’s honestly something about a private school bond that is indescribable.

Fast forward to July 2015 and I had just seen on Facebook that a few of my private school friends met up for drinks. I remember commenting on one of their statuses and they immediately invited me to join them. Unfortunately,  I had plans already or I had to work really early, so I didn’t make it. It was in that moment that I realized that I had been missing those girls tremendously and I really wanted to reconnect with them.

Most of us got to reconnect a few months later, but it was under some very unfortunate circumstances. In mid-October, our friend Tanya suffered a massive brain stem stroke. This caused her to lose control of her body, including breathing. What’s worse is that her husband Klint was actually stationed in Korea when this occurred. [Tanya and Klint lived in Fort Hood, Tx. But by the grace of God, Tanya had come home to San Antonio to visit her mom that particular weekend.] When I found out, I remember gasping and telling my parents what happened. It affected me so much for several different reasons but I couldn’t help to think that it could have been any of us, even me. We are the same age, so why couldn’t it happen to me? I was in so much shock. We still didn’t know much and because I hadn’t actually talked to Tanya in years, let alone her family, I didn’t want to intrude and ask for information.

I gave it a few days and it was weighing so heavy on my heart that I had to do something. I reached out to Tanya’s aunt and asked if I could bring some snacks to the hospital for the family. Again, I didn’t want to intrude so I had to ask before I just showed up. Luckily she was okay with it so I immediately went to the store and bought all kinds of snacks and drinks.  Upon my arrival at the hospital, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew she’d be surrounded by family and I knew the condition she would be in, but I was still in denial.

We walked into Tanya’s room and even though Luke Bryan was playing in the background, all I could focus on was Tanya. Given the awful circumstances, she still looked beautiful as ever.  Tanya’s mom, Chris, updated us on Tanya’s condition. I almost don’t remember anything because I was so focused on Tanya. Considering the circumstances, it felt so right to be there and our families picked up where we left off. We offered our support and prayers, and then went to sit in the waiting room with the rest of her family and friends.

We stayed for nearly an hour and in that hour, I saw people coming and going – all of whom were the product of private school. Those connections are never lost and seeing everyone come together in support of Tanya was so endearing to me. It makes me proud to have that connection, even if it was for a short time. Those connections never die. I’m not trying to discredit the public schooling system, but the friendships are completely different. I can’t put my finger on what exactly is the cause of the differences, but they are definitely there.

While Tanya was beating the odds in the hospital, her friends were organizing crowd-funding pages, potlucks, bracelet orders, t-shirt orders, and most importantly prayer services. It takes lots of hard work and collaboration, but it’s just second nature to all of us to do it because she’s our friend and we love  her. Aside from the money that has been raised, it has shown us how fragile life can be and reminded us of our mortality. Friendships were reignited while new friendships were made. Family came together. Faith grew stronger among us all.

 

Let this serve as reminder that there is no hill to tall for you to climb. When the doctors came and told Tanya’s family that she’d never be able to move again, she proved them wrong. She had faith and used that faith to move her limbs again. I guarantee she has had bad days, we all do,  but I also guarantee that she has never given up. Let this serve as a reminder that it’s never too late to reach out to someone. You may have lost touch with someone or had a falling out, but if you feel like you still have something to say, reach out and say it. Chances are you won’t hear what you want, but at least you’ll have a peace of mind that you got those last words off your chest. I hadn’t spoken to some of those girls in years, and when this happened, we reunited and still talk a lot more frequently than before. It’s a beautiful life, don’t live it in doubt or regret.

So this post is to you, Tanya…. Keep on making us proud. Thank you for bringing us all together. We love you!

 

 

 

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