Today I celebrate friendship. In our transient, temporary world, I have a real treasure – a lifelong friend, someone who has known me forever. Patti’s mother and my mother knew each other during their pregnancies, sixty years ago. They dreamed about their children becoming friends and growing up together.
And that’s what happened.
We rode the school bus together, went to Brownies (our mothers were co-leaders), and walked from school to our church for junior choir rehearsal. We rode bikes, climbed trees, and went trick-or-treating. We celebrated birthdays, went to Girl Scout camp, and spent snow days sledding and building snow forts. Our orthodontist scheduled our appointments so we could carpool; we assured one another that the embarrassment of braces would eventually pay off.
We were thrilled to be in the same fourth grade class with an eccentric, fascinating teacher, an older single woman who encouraged us to read, ask questions, travel, and learn. We survived middle school with stories of teachers that still make us laugh. High school included all the usual teenage drama but finally led to graduation.
By then we were ready to try something new so we went to separate colleges. Another friend realized how much we missed each other, so her birthday present to both of us was a bus ticket from my college in Pennsylvania to Patti’s college in Indiana (thanks, Suzanne). Our first college summer was filled with adventures as we worked as camp counselors at beautiful girls’ camp in Wisconsin.
And in the years since then? We have laughed and cried. We celebrated each other’s weddings. We supported one another through divorce, career changes, parenting, unemployment, and great loss.
While we are not yet “old,” we are wise enough to realize that our friendship is a gift. Despite living in different states, we make a point to see one another at least once a year. We started celebrating milestone birthday years – at 40, we traveled to a friend’s vacation home for a weekend getaway, at 50, we relaxed on a weekend cruise from Miami, and last week, to celebrate our 60th birthday year, we spent three days at the King Arthur Baking School in Vermont, learning how to bake pies and tarts.
Because the years seem to be going by more quickly, we’ve decided that we need to step up our birthday celebration game – we’re already thinking about what to do for our 65th.
Friendships change our lives.
Friends, those still living and those who are now a memory, are a gift.
Let us give thanks for friends.
Two are better than one,
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
(Ecclesiastes 4: 9-10, NIV)