New Castle News

August 5, 2013

Lisa Madras: What's priceless to you?

Lisa Madras
New Castle News


What would your ‘priceless’ Mastercard-style commercial be?
There answer to this question can change from day to day or even minute to minute.  The important thing is that you have an answer at any given time.  For me, somedays, my kids would be the star of this commercial.  Other days, it would be something about strength or perseverance.
Today, it's about friendship.  Because today, I'm saying goodbye to one of my dearest friends.
Don't get me wrong... she's not dying or anything.  She only lives about twenty minutes from me, and she's not even moving.  But up until this week, we worked together almost every day for eleven years, and she's leaving.
We'll make the same promises we do every time someone we know takes off for greener pastures:  "We'll do dinner!  We'll go shopping!  We'll still get together... I promise!"  And we mean it.  We really, truly do.  But life is cruel and demanding, and our intentions are so easily swept away as we struggle to keep up with what we need to do.  But regardless of whether or not we still manage to get together, I just won't be seeing her every day anymore, and that makes my heart ache.
Most you know Erica Galvin as the cute little blond behind the camera for the New Castle News.  That was the hat she was wearing the first time I met her.  She snapped a picture of my daughter at the Light Up Night parade, not realizing that we were both new hires of the News.
Those of you who encountered her in her eleven years here remember the girl who got smiles from the crankiest of children, immortalized athletes in incredible photos, and faced down fires and drug raids and disasters with calm self-assurance.
During that time, though, she became so much more to me:  Lunches spent on the racquetball court or getting Chinese take-out even when neither of us could really afford it.  Trips to the pumpkin farm, quarters spent getting fakes mustaches out of bubble-gum machines, and me making her climb on chairs to take my picture so my double chin wouldn't show up in the photos.
She listened to me year after year while I complained about mistreatment from my then-boyfriend, and sat patiently on the phone with me while I sobbed for hours when I found out he was cheating on me.  She took my children shopping to buy me Christmas presents when she knew I had no family to take them for me.  She offered me advice on how to fix my life, and resisted the urge to smack me when I didn't take it and fouled things up again.  
I only hope that in our years together, I offered her a fraction of the kindness, strength, and love that she gave to me.  I know without a doubt that there were times I wouldn't have made it through without her.
God has a different path for her to walk now, and I'm happy for her.  But I sure am glad her path ran alongside mine for a while.  I'll always have the memories, I'll always have a little piece of her in my heart, and I'll always have the photos with no double chins in them.
Weekly Chinese take-out for eleven years:  $2860
Cost of a gym membership to work it off:  $3960
Having a friend (no matter where she is) whose mere existence is proof that there is goodness and honesty and light in the world:  Priceless