Last night I sat in the banquet room at Antonio’s Italian Ristorante watching the election results for Elkhart County’s primary election. My long-time friend Teresa Cataldo was running to be the Republican candidate for judge of Superior Court 3. The room was filled with hope and excitement that exuded off everyone that had come out to show her support. It was a unique experience for me in so many ways.
I have known Teresa for 20-plus years, so when she asked for my help, of course I was willing to give it to her. It’s just what you do for friends. But to tell the truth, I’ve never really, personally known a candidate running for public office. Not as closely as I know Teresa. I have met several candidates over the years, but she is the only one that I would even classify as a friend. There was a certain energy in the room that can’t really be described. It is the substance of hopes and dreams and life-long goals hanging in the balance.
It is an odd thing to see a friend come so close to obtaining something they have dreamed about for years. It’s joyful and emotional and just … indescribably weird. Although we all have hopes and dreams, none of us are truly prepared when they actually become reality. It’s almost unbelievable when they do, no matter how much you said that they would.
The night was full of emotion. Early returns putting her ahead would then give way to an opponent taking the top spot. And as I continued to refresh websites and Twitter in order to have more accurate results, my heart raced. Oh, how I wanted my friend’s dream to be realized! I wanted her to succeed so badly, to see her celebrate with her family and the loved ones who gathered around her. That’s what you do for your friends. You hope and dream with them, pulling for their successes and comforting them in failure.
The night ended with my friend Teresa getting one step closer to her dream. She will now be the Republican candidate for judge of Superior Court 3. And I’m so happy for her. But more importantly, I learned something so important about friendship. Friendship means being emotionally invested in another person’s success. Friendship means that even though you experience success, you are still the same goofy person you were before. Teresa is the same person today that she was yesterday. She’s just one step closer to realizing a life-long dream. I am still the same person, pulling for my friend, asking her if there is anything I can do to help. For me, tonight wasn’t about an election. It was about friendship. And in that regard, Teresa and I are both winners.