Thursday, October 7, 2010

PART II: The Women in My Life: My First Friend~My Forever Friend

The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart. ~Elisabeth Foley

Short-cuts through the neighbor's tall shrubs to get to her home... a haven of creativity, menagerie of animals, the most beautiful French Provencial furniture, Barbie dolls and board games, spend the nights~long before "sleepovers" were thought of, movies at Mitchell-Neilson, trips on our bikes to Victory's, bags full of candy,riding bikes around and around and around our neighborhood block...
Dressing just alike in third grade, Mrs. Rogers saying we were just like Siamese twins~inseparable, walking home from school, arm-in-arm... with friends, chanting "Lions and Tiger and Bears... oh my!" and "Step on a crack, break your momma's back"...
Sixth grade memories... my cousin in class, carnival at Jackson Heights, ID bracelets, Linebaugh Library's basement children's book-checkout, Moudy's limeades & sandwiches, Sugar & Spice cookies...
High school sorority rush, disappointment, thought I had lost my BFF forever, next summer my rush, sorority parties, dances, fun times...
Just a few priceless memories of growing up with childhood friend.
We grew up together; we grew up separately. If I could hit a replay button for any part of my life... it would be the time lost with this precious childhood friend from 1974 through 1980s. I am blessed to say as adults we have grown closer again. Like in many relationships, things happen and our once closeness grew distant.

What was it that caused this distance to span for almost a decade? What else... a silly boy. As a teacher of middle school age students, whenever "girl problems" rear their ugly heads, it is usually over a member of the opposite sex. Many a "counseling session" over conflicts has resulted in me sharing my "expertise" in this particular area. I share my best advice I wish someone had shared with me... "No boy is EVER worth coming between you and a best friend!"

My past... regrets, grief over the times lost, sadness from the joys of sharing the special moments of first and lasting love, everyday life, births of children, our children growing up together... all are gone. However, they remain weighted within my innermost being. Gratefully, the silence of forgiveness occurred somewhere along the way to maturity. Today, I can write this knowing my first and forever friend is still there for me and I for her.

Our present... the two of us sit together, catch up on the latest in our adult kids' lives, share our heartaches, our joys, our "maturing pains". Our focus is on listening, laughing, and a tear every now and then. We delight in the stories of silliness, trod through the tough times, and walk away carrying a piece of each other's lives... sharing the joy and dividing the pain. Inspiring, encouraging, caring and sharing are the words that resonate when I think of our times together. What a blessing!

The future... no one knows what the next moment may bring for any one of us. This I do know... if ever I need a shoulder to lean on for strength or a hug to celebrate the joys in my life... this woman will forever be there! What a comfort knowing this... my hope is that she feels the same.

Just like when we dressed alike from shoes & socks to ponytails & freckles and every inch of space in between; I believe our souls~intact, our spirits~strengthened, our hearts~identical... as if we were back in third grade.

Thank you, Sheila, for being the first friend of my life!