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wesome shopping trip, thanks!” I said to my friend Rachel as I swung open the front door. “It’s been way too long since we spent time together — I think the last time was when you were feeding me mango in the hospital!”

Dumping my bags down on the floor, I invited Rachel to take a seat and glanced around, looking for an easy way to keep her entertained while I prepared supper. I spied the green folder where I store my proudly cut-out “Whispers” columns.

Should I? Shouldn’t I?

Not pausing to think about the consequences, I grabbed the folder and handed it to Rachel. “I’ve been doing some writing. Here’s some of my stuff. If you’re interested…”

I chopped zucchini while peeking at her face. It changed from curiosity to surprise and finally to an indescribable mix of emotions. Rachel sat, almost unmoving, slowly making her way through the folder that contained my life story. I finished preparing supper and sat down across from her. She kept reading.

A bubble of nerves grew in my stomach. I reached for my phone, trying to distract myself. I kept looking at her face. I saw the “aha” look. Relief: some of the question marks that had dogged our friendship were finally being answered. Tears gathered in the corner of her eyes and I realized that our friendship would never be the same.

Silently, I prayed it would only change for the better. I prayed I wouldn’t get the pity and overprotectiveness that had come with some earlier attempts at being honest with friends. Rachel picked up the last piece in the folder, and my nerves felt ready to snap — what was she thinking? Would she understand that I’m still the same person, even after reading my biggest secret, along with my insecurities? Finally, she put down the papers and stood up. “Can I please hug you?” she asked.

I let out a breath I hadn’t realized I was holding and stood up. We hugged and then I stepped back and watched as Rachel wiped tears from her cheeks. I saw the admiration in her eyes. It was going to be okay.

“I had no idea you went through all this. I’m so proud to be your friend.”

Vulnerability. Relief. Happiness. She knew and didn’t think worse of me!

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner,” I said, thinking of how much easier life would have been…