by Haily Mae Dunn, , November 5, 2010

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Two summers ago was one of the hardest, yet best summers of my life. In the winter of 2007, I was in a car accident and broke my back, so I was still considered to be recovering; my grandma had passed away in April of 2008; then in June, my boyfriend and I broke up. I felt like I hated my life at that point. I was never happy, and I couldn't understand why everything was crashing down all at once.

I called my best friend, James*, who lives in Vermont. I grew up with him, and we have always been close. He somehow always knows how to make me feel better. As I was talking to him, tears were pouring down my face. He gave me advice that I didn't want to hear, but at the same time was comforting coming from him. I need to wait things out and go on with my life, he said. He is always real with me. He never gives me false hope or the wrong impression, just raw and honest truth.

After talking for awhile, he told me I should just come live with him for the summer and get things off my mind. Without hesitation, I accepted. It was time for something new. I needed to get away from it all, and the high mountains of Vermont were the perfect place to clear my head. I quit my job, packed my bags, got in my car for the four-hour trip, moved in, and he helped me find a job.

He was the best friend he always had been, and I knew he was there for me when I didn't want anything to do with anyone else. He still doesn't know it, but he saved me that summer. I made it through in one piece because of him and his efforts to be the best friend he could be.

We hung out with his friends, I met new friends of my own, we went out on the boat, went out to dinner, got drunk, and as friends, we grew closer together than ever. We talked about everything we could think of and I found out a lot more about him than I knew. He opened up to me, as I opened up to him. I knew he wasn't there to judge me. I told him my mistakes and my weaknesses, but most of the time I just cried.

The song "Thunder" by Boys Like Girls, reminds me of James every time I hear it. My summer with him was defined by this song. "Your voice was the soundtrack of my summer. Do you know you're unlike any other? You'll always be my thunder." These lyrics describe how James was there for me. He was the one who guided me through that terrible summer. He was my thunder. I knew that no matter what I was going through, he would be there. He could get me out of trouble; make me feel like the world wasn't crashing down around me after all. Above all, he was my best friend. No one could replace him.

I look back to that summer often, and James's efforts to "save" me from my own little world. I am constantly reminded that I always have a friend in James. No one has ever been there for me the way he was that summer. He didn't care about himself- just that I was okay, and that is one of the greatest things about him. He can put his own needs aside to help others.

That summer changes our friendship. We are closer than ever because of those few weeks spent in the mountains that allowed me to forget what life at home had brought me. I only hope that someday I can tell him what he did for me. I still don't think he realizes the extent to which he helped me. Possibly someday I will be able to repay him for such a bittersweet summer.

"I've got to find a way out. Maybe there's a way out..." James was my way out. And I thank him.

* Name has been changed

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