Recently I shared in the pain of two friends; one died of cancer the other, left without a lifelong friend. These ladies two were "two peas in a pod", "tweedle-dee & tweedle-dum". In February of this year Mary discovered she had brain cancer. June 2, 2009 Dorothy lost her best friend, Mary, to this monster we all know as cancer. This experience of loss prompted a time of personal reflection for me.
Think for a moment with me... Who is the "tweedle-dum" in your "tweedle-dee"? Who is the other pea in your pod"? Julia is that friend for me. I cannot imagine a single day of my life when a "Julia thought" doesn't cross my mind. Whether she is right across town or halfway around the world... I know that is there, in spirit or in person, when I need her.
My thoughts wandered through the many friendships I have experienced in my short 50+ years on this earth. The longest enduring friendship I hold dear is from age five. Many of my friendships have endured petty jealousies, major disagreements, and one, a business partnership. My friendship with Julia is quite extraordinary.
When looking for friendships, the standing advice is: "... find someone who has similar interests, hobbies - commonalities." That is always a good place to begin...
Julia and I share so much, but yet we are as different as day and night. Our birthdays are in February, in fact, we are three days apart in age. When we first met each other, we were both substitute teaching at the same school. Our first teaching position was at the same school. Her younger son was in my fifth grade class, and my only son was in her fourth grade class. We both adore dogs! We have a passion for the written word. Her mom lives in Memphis, so does my son. We both drive a Toyota Camry, her fast eight cylinder is taupe in color, my slow six cylinder, a speedy red. So you see... we share many loves: cars, Memphis, reading, dogs, teaching, and February.
As my mind continues to wander... I am somewhat puzzled by our friendship. There are so many differences spanning between us. Many of these differences are minor; some, vast. I love the thirst-quenching gulp of a chilled Diet-Pepsi. Her choice of beverage is room-temperature water or a chilled glass of Chardonnay. Julia's home is shared by several cats, mine is home to none. Her feet are those of a world traveler flying to Europe to see French gardens and castles; mine stay on the solid ground for the comforts of home. Julia is a "doer": outdoor garden, carpentry, home remodeling projects, blacksmithing to name just a few! My projects are numerous as well, but more of the sitting domesticated flavor. Julia lives alone which is why her work is never done. My husband of thirty years takes on many of the responsibilities Julia must do alone. I often tell her I need to give her lessons in slothfulness! She is teaching me everything I want to know about herb gardening. She loves to cook; I love to eat... a great combination, don't you agree!
Even with our differences and because of our similarities Julia is a friend on whom I rely and trust. We multiply each others joys and divide the pain. The best of times we have shared: sons' graduations from high school and college and her older son's wedding. During my dad's battle with cancer, I would call Julia either on the way to his home or on the way back to my home, sometimes both. She listened through my tears and made the long, lonely ride endurable. Julia was there to divide the pain when cancer finally took him away from me. Recently, when Good Friday brought tornados to our town, Julia walked along beside me, picking up the shattered dreams of neighbors scattered over my property.
What will tomorrow bring, who knows? But together we look forward to a future of grandchildren, retirement, and travels. I know with out a doubt, we will be there to lean on each other through the worst of times when the storms of life bring them our way.