I met my dear friend Nikki before my shop opened. She showed up at the door one day before the store was even open. It was August. I hadn’t taken into consideration that the “deal” on the rent didn’t include air conditioning. I was covered in sweat, lugging boxes. She turned up, looking fabulous in some terrific summer attire and said breathlessly, “Are you open? I’ve been driving by for weeks!”
Nikki soon became my favorite customer. She completely “got” my taste, and she came in often to snatch up the latest treasures. One day we started chatting about websites, and soon we were trading emails, sharing different blogs we had found. We both thought houses should be decorated in white despite children and pets, we both thought the kitchen should always look like House Beautiful was about to show up to take pictures. We both considered burlap a fabric. It was a match made in heaven.
Fast forward two years later, I was pregnant with Eliza and cancer had started to take over my health, although I was still not aware of why I was feeling so ill. After a week long hospital stay, Nikki would discreetly leave packages at my house: copies of the latest book she’d read, issues of Country Living magazine, little cards of inspiration and the occasional text asking if I needed a Starbucks coffee if she was in the neighborhood. She quietly became the friend we’ve all dreamed of. The kind of friend who knew that after a horrible day at the hospital, what I really needed was an article on the perfect white paint. The kind of friend who knew how to be kind and caring without expecting anything back in return.
A few months later, after 7 months of an exhausting pregnancy, with my liver growing larger by the minute, my water broke at 32 weeks. I woke up knowing that there was no going back. I don’t know what she did with her own two kids that day. I don’t know what plans she had, or where she needed to be, but she showed up at my doorstep within minutes. She was there all day, she took care of the kids, and the extended family that turned up. She reassured my husband when I started to go into acute liver failure. She fed the dog, and God knows what else she did while I was in the hospital fighting for my life that week.
Nikki never keeps track of the kind things that she does. She is a friend in the truest sense. She is the kind of girl who sends cards and brings beautiful flowers and gifts because she understands that it’s the little things that bring joy. She is an amazing wife, mother, friend and career woman. She has taught me about the quiet elegance of being a good friend and a beautiful human being. I am always in awe of her and love being in her presence. Her home is no different. It is tranquil and peaceful. There are kids having sleepovers, pets running around, and constant noise and laughter. She fusses over everything when decorating, yet doesn’t care if babies or kids or dogs climb all over the furniture. It’s a house full of happiness.
Someone once told me that if you can count your friends on one hand, you are lucky. I’ve had a hard year. I don’t always show up. I’ve often been reclusive and boring. I’m not sure the people in my life really understand how much they mean to me, but if you met Nikki, you’d know why I consider myself lucky to know her. It’s not often you meet someone who loves burlap and is a good friend… Nikki is both.