It is the friends you can call up at 4 a.m. that matter.”

-Marlene Dietrich

This quote reminds me of my friend Kirsten. The excerpts to follow are from my memoir BACK ON THE COURT. Both take place after I was in an accident, where I was badly injured and lost my fiancé. Both involve Kirsten, who somehow manages to always keep me smiling.

…When I pull back the cardboard flaps of the package that has just been delivered to the front door, all I can see are empty candy wrappers. That’s my Kirsten. I dig deeper; some of the wrappers have candy still intact. I pop a Hershey kiss in my mouth. As the chocolate melts, I scavenge through the wrappers and find, a book of word search puzzles, a hand painted journal, a plastic toy that looks like it came from McDonalds and the book Curious George Goes to the Hospital. I leaf through the book with what might be my first real smile since the accident.


…It’s 11:30 pm when I get home. Before I crawl under my covers, I check my machine and there are several messages, one is from Kirsten. After turning over in bed for two hours, I pick up the phone and dial. It’s 4:30 a.m. in New York, but then, Kirsten is used to my untimely calls.

“Hi, Kirsten,” I say, now on the couch slowly rolling my head, and phone, side to side.

“Hey Sōn, how are ya?”

“I’m alright,” I say, finishing with my neck and finding a comfortable spot on the couch, “but my neck is killing me, I can’t sleep.”

“Really,” Kirsten says, not bothering to hold back a tired yawn.

“Yeah, I’m so sick of it. One stupid doctor tried to put me on antidepressants. I was so pissed. If I need antidepressants, it’s not for my neck.” I pull a yellow throw from off the back of the couch and lay it across Brianna and my chest. “I hate some doctors. Thank god I like Dr. Perry, my orthopedic surgeon, because my surgery to take the rod out of my leg is coming up on April 12.”

There’s another lengthy yawn from the other end of the line.

“I’m not that boring,” I say, smiling to myself, “oh, and guess what?”

“You scheduled a boob job at the same time?” Kirsten jabs.

I shake my head and laugh. I’m glad I called Kirsten, even if she isn’t. Kirsten cheers me up. My “guess what?” question for Kirsten was concerning my new boyfriend Jason. He wasn’t coming to Spokane for my surgery and though I told him I didn’t care, I really want him there. I have begun to count on him more and more and it scares me. What would happen if I lost him too? I don’t think I could handle more pain. Kirsten helps me forget about the “what if’s” and, without knowing, helps me appreciate the “now.”