I was nine years old. I had a seven-year-old younger sister Kate. My mom had just passed away from breast cancer, and my dad felt hopeless.
Things didn’t seem like they could get any worse. The next year or so is a complete blur in my life; I think I have subconsciously blocked out that time because it was so difficult for my family and me. My dad about a year later began to date who would become my step-mom, Debbie.
My family had known Debbie and her family for years before, and her son Mark was my best friend growing up. His parents got divorced right around the time of my mother’s passing, and the timing just seemed to work out perfectly for my dad and Debbie.
This time seemed to absolutely fly by, and before I knew it my family was moving into a brand new house with Debbie, Mark, and her daughter Jackie. There were six of us now in a house. Things had moved so quickly I don’t think any of the kids were ready for such a big change.
There was so much resentment between the opposing families. Kate and I had loads of tension with Debbie, while Mark and Jackie couldn’t stand my dad. They were disgusted with the new situation because they obviously wanted their real dad instead of mine.
Mark and I, best friends growing up, couldn’t stand each other more. We never spoke, never hung out, and talked bad about each other behind each other’s backs. I hated that he disliked my dad, and he probably hated me for disliking his mom.
All I wanted was to move back to my old house with Kate and my dad. We were finally starting to get stronger after my mom’s passing, and now we had to deal with this? It seemed totally unfair.
Those next three years were really rough, and it was probably a stereotypical step family situation. Lots of resentment and tension, but our parents were happy together. Finally, however, there was a defining moment that brought Mark and me back together.
My best friend from high school, Graham, was a big basketball player like Mark. We always hung out, and he couldn’t stand Mark either because of everything I would tell him. However, during the summer going into junior year, Mark and Graham worked at the same basketball camp. They spent 8 hours together for two weeks and grew pretty close.
One Friday night, Graham invited me to come over and hang out for the night and when I got there, Mark was there too. At first I was pissed and thought about just going home.
The three of us played basketball, ping-pong, video games, built a bonfire, and watched a movie. We all had a blast, and it was at that exact moment that Mark and I became friends again. This transformation in our relationship not only helped us grow closer, but it helped our family as a whole bond.
Mark and I’s struggling relationship was a prime reason why our family had so much tension, and fixing that friendship was a turning point for our family. Since then, our family has only been growing stronger. Mark and I went off to UGA last year, and we even roomed together.
Four years ago if somebody told me that Mark would be my roommate in college, I would have laughed in their face because I couldn’t think of anything worse. But we did, and it was an unbelievable year. All of the kids are in college now, but when we go back home for holidays and breaks, we always pick it up right where we left off.
I couldn’t be happier with how my life is now; I can truly say that life will always go on and everything happens for a reason.