We didn’t grow up together as in having a well-worn path to each other’s house by way of banana seat bikes or metal-wheeled roller skates. We didn’t call each other on school days to see how we should do our hair or figure out what the other was wearing. We didn’t sit and make daisy chain bracelets on the front lawn, catch crawdads and frogs in the back, or chase lightning bugs with Mason jars on a late summer’s eve.
No, we didn’t grow up together in those carefree single-digit years, dreaming out loud in the endless possibilities each day could hold.
But we have grown together, that’s for sure.
We’ve all heard the adage about how people come into our life for a reason or season, to see us through a specific time. But then there are those we’re blessed with for a lifetime… and who often times become our life line through what the years would bring.
In that, I’ve been blessed beyond belief. Especially having lived most of my life in transition, with friends coming in and out of it through so many military moves and new duty stations. Hard as we tried, it was often hard to keep up, and though we loved where we were and who we were with, all too soon there was another where, and with it came a set of new.
But in and through all that, if there’s a little luck and a lot of love on our side, there are those who steadfastly remain. And oh my goodness I’ve been lucky in that! A best friend who has followed me through. One who anchors me, holds me, and speaks truth to me. We’ve only lived close a handful of the years we’ve been friends, and though I’ve definitely been guilty of not cultivating our friendship the way I should have at times, still, here we are, 25 years later. There’s so much more than we bargained for behind us, but it’s brought a fullness of friendship I couldn’t have imagined.
Through the years, this beautiful woman has truly been my hope-hold. We raised our children in each other’s laps and hearts and homes. We hiked mountains, and shared mountains of laundry. We drank coffee across the table and drank up friendship along with it. We watched the kids grow their own sense of identity together, as they grew into themselves, and found their own best friends in each other.
We shared recipes and pizza nights, baby births and birthdays, promotions and pass overs, camping trips on the beach, and downpours on our beach camps. There were road trips and shopping trips, Korea trips and sit-in-the-terminal-in-the-middle-of-the-night trips. There were the cabbage soup diet days and the let’s devour a loaf of fresh jalapeno cheddar bread days. There were hours and hours at the local parks in the daylight hours, and glass ball beachcombing trips in the midnight ones. There were games to play and cookies to bake, and forgiveness to give when the recipe’s tripled but the eggs aren’t. There were incomprehensible city-sized tug-of-wars, Japanese grocery stores and 100 yen (dollar!) stores. There were family field trips, travel bugs, pineapple factory smorgasbords and beach-side pedicures. And there were of course the everyday days, the ‘she’s doing the floors stay out of the house’ days, and the days when sadness and discord brought such hard things as part of the conversation days.
Eventually there were also the moving days, that came with the too far and few between days. But always, whether we lived next door or on the next continent over, life was shared in the friendship; by phone or letter, card or text, laughter and joys were heightened, challenges discussed, and sorrows shared. We had made friends our family, and our families became each other’s friends.
Forever til always, this woman weaves the fabric of friendship into my life. And when my heart fell shattered, her beautiful tapestry of unconditional love, even from afar, came and picked up the shards, piece by piece, rounding the edges and weaving them back in with her love. Forever changed, yes, but stitched together with the strength of her friendship and love.
Because when I called, she came. When there was no air to breathe she held my heart through the suffocating. When there was no sleep to be had she sat beside me. When there were impossible calls to make and decisions no parent should have to decide, she held my hand. When hunger was masked by trauma and pain, she placed sun-ripened berries in front of me. And when she needed more strength to keep lending me hers, her hero husband drove a thousand miles or more through a cold and stormy winter’s night to be by her side.
She held me through the sobbing and the silence. She washed every dish in my house when everyone came, and then came again. She had coffee on, and tissue always. She fielded the phone calls and called the funeral home. She washed my hair and dressed me when my legs were lead, my body plastered and plowed over.
She sat by my side sorting through thousands upon thousands of pictures, she arranged the flowers that poured in, and she knew the importance of the story of God in the geese and made me tell it, knowing it would help me see Him when all I wanted to do was scream at Him.
She sheltered and protected, helped me find my voice when I needed it, organized cards and people and sleeping and food. She made thank you cards with an offer to send them, she checked in daily when life took her back, and knew to call twice when I didn’t know how to answer the first.
She gave blood and platelets and ran a marathon with me, traveling across the country to do it. She came for the memorial dedication and she came just because.
And she prays for me, this friend of mine. In spite of the times I’ve failed her, taken her friendship for granted, or not known how to give what she needed, still she loves me. And still, she prays for me.
‘Blessed’ is hardly a starting point for the friendship she gives.
Granted a wish, mine would be a best friend like this for all who seek.
One who will sit across the table, inviting you to tread the deep waters if you need to, or sit comfortably in the silence when you can’t, all while holding your heart and accepting as much or as little as you have to give.
One who will pick up the phone day or night, plan the things that delight you, and make you try on the clothes that you’re sure will not!
One who is equally comfortable sharing her home with bunko ladies or Generals, and one who dotes on her children but holds her husband as her number one.
One who points you to Jesus because she IS His hands and feet, and one who will tell it to you straight, listen in love, and advise with honesty, never passing judgment alongside.
One who is always put together and gets herself from bathrobe to beauty in minutes flat. Who is no nonsense when it comes to getting things done, but always has time to stop and give whatever it is someone may need.
She’s remarkable, this best friend of mine. Give her a band saw or a KitchenAid and she’ll whip up something wonderful. Give her a compliment and she’ll graciously thank you, give her your heart and she will cradle it as gently and carefully as she would a newborn.
This best friend of mine has experienced her own life-altering heartache these last few years. Our loss is different, and though grief manifests uniquely for each of us, it’s shared in the shattering of all we knew and believed and loved.
But isn’t this when the true tests really come? In the face of our deepest hurt, it’s the point we can turn to or from, isn’t it? To a God who loves us, even when He allows pain into our lives, or from a God who loves us, even when He allows pain in our lives… The heartache and pain is there, regardless. But in the turning to Him is a place to breathe through the shattering of what we’ve known, and breathe in the life-giving love that He would offer.
In this too, in the midst of her own heartache, this friend of mine has been my guide. She seeks His peace, and in it she finds the strength to forgive if not understand, the strength to trust, the strength to love fully and completely. It’s the greatest gift He has to give us, and what we in turn can offer another.
I need her example, always, but I hate the pain she’s felt in order to provide it. I would take it from her again and again and again, if only I could. And on the days when it’s hard to see and feel the beauty and promise and purpose God created in her, I would simply hold up the mirror for her to see.
She is truly beautiful beyond measure, and not because she knows how to match shoes to shirt and accessorize, which she does! She is beautiful because she is His, and allows her heart to reflect the work His hands can do.
I’m so blessed by this woman! So grateful that in all seasons, however far apart we find ourselves, her love is ever-present.
She’s my best friend. Manifesting God’s love and kindness in all she does, using Heaven’s hands to hold earthly hearts.
Happy Happy Birthday Kim!! I love you more than words.