|Anika and Ashlynne with their new BFF necklaces|
These girls have a friendship going back to kindergarten. And I always knew how much they enjoyed each other, but this year I have come to realize just how much of a bond they have. At parent teacher conferences this year, Ashlynne's teacher told me that she has never seen a friendship like theirs. Anika waits by the classroom door every day for Ash at lunch, recess, and at the end of the day. She helps her when she can't reach something, and she waits for her when she is moving slower than the rest of the kids.
When Anika stayed the night this Friday, I asked her what her favorite thing about being Ashlynne's friend is. She replied with "only one? There's so many things", while tapping her finger to her chin. The she told me that it was probably the fact that they always look out for each other. I expected her to follow up with things like, when people are being mean to Ashlynne, she sticks up for her, or when people are staring, she gets them to look away. But instead she said that when someone is mean to HER, that Ashlynne always defends her. And that when SHE is having a bad day, Ash can cheer her up. Her responses really surprised me. I always prayed that Ashlynne would have good friends, and that people wouldn't just be her friend out of pity, because they felt sorry for her. Right then, I realized God answered that prayer in the form of Anika. I truly believe that when Anika looks at Ashlynne, she doesn't even see her Ichthyosis, she just sees her friend.
I've always thought that Ashlynne having physical differences was really going to have certain perks when it came to dating. Such as, the person that she ends up with will really truly love her for her. It won't be a superficial love. It might really save her from getting her heart broken when she's a teenager or young adult. Lately, I've come to realize this to be true when it comes to her friendships as well. Her core group of friends are going to see past all of the differences on the outside, and see her for the beautiful young lady she is on the inside. And Anika has been doing that for 6 years now. I firmly believe that she has made a world of difference in Ashlynne's life. See, as I've said before, Ashlynne's Ichthyosis doesn't only affect her, it affects everyone who loves her. Anika included. Some day, Anika will have to answer those questions, such as "What's wrong with your friend", or "why is she so red?". But she doesn't let it stop her from hanging out with Ashlynne. When Anika stays the night, they have to take time out for Ash's bath, they can't play outside if it's too hot, but... She doesn't care. She just wants to hang out with her best friend. She doesn't let it affect her in a negative way. And I think that's something that a lot of adults could learn from her.
And by the way, when I asked Ash what her favorite thing about Anika is, she said "we have so much fun together, and she just gets me". Pretty powerful statement if you ask me....