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When a Jar of Candy Sparked a Lifelong Friendship

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We all know the famous story of E.T., the lovable alien who was led out of the woods by a handful of Reese’s Pieces, brought out of the dark by trails of the Halloween-esque colored treats to the safety and friendship of the beloved Elliott.

For someone like me being unfamiliar with being out on my own in a town hundreds of miles away from family and friends, it felt like being stranded on an unknown planet.

When I met Bill that day in October, I never imagined I would be invited to see a day in his life. As someone with cerebral palsy who kept to himself surrounded by his video games, being invited into his world was a big first step for him and for me.

This big visit was one where I first took a public bus out on my own. My only directions were to “get off at the castle and walk down the road until you saw an old fashioned school house.” The school house was where he lived (a supportive apartment community), and the castle in question was an old armory. Clearly, adventure beckoned me.

Upon arrival, I was welcomed in by Bill crawling on the ground. Confused and worried, I was about to ask what he was doing before he interrupted me, pulled on my pant leg, and told me, “Quick, get on the ground!”

What have I gotten myself into? I thought.

We crawled the few feet towards his kitchen, where he opened the cabinet under the sink and pulled out a mason jar of Reese’s Pieces mixed with various kinds of M&M’s.

“Shh… don’t tell anyone! Tom (one of his staff at the time) always eats it all on me. But you can have some, Mandy.”

Mandy's friend Bill holding a jar of Reese's Pieces and M&M's
Mandy’s friend Bill holding a jar of Reese’s Pieces and M&M’s

So as I sat there on his kitchen floor, a friendship was born over a jar of candy. We kept our tradition going up until I moved away and we lost touch for awhile.

For his birthday this year, we rekindled that tradition, in celebration of our 10 years of friendship, by me shipping him a new jar filled with the candy that started it all.

That day brought on many conversations and smiles. Whenever we would have a tough day, out came the jar, a cup of coffee and a hug, usually on the kitchen floor.

I came out of a dark place in my life because of this magical jar. Like E.T., I found home and comfort in a land far away.

Originally published: January 17, 2016
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