There are so many different people in my life.
Specifically, I am thinking of a handful of different kinds of friends. People who support me, who care about me, and who have shared things with me.
People who I've grown up with at certain points in my life.
I am thinking about this one friend I grew into a teenager with, and who I find myself talking about so often when I tell my son stories of my life before I was a Mama. She was the only friend on the block. We did fun and creative things, like pretend our bicycles were horses and we'd pull the horse along, until we realized that bicycles need to be pedaled or they'll fall. I remember trying to give her a piggyback ride when she was probably five and I was so much bigger, maybe six or seven, and she tumbled over my head and got a bloody face. At some point we grew apart, and that was probably when I became a teenager and life was awkward in all its confusion. She's married now and facebook has helped to reconnect us. We're still in different places in our lives now, but she remains an important part of my life.
Then there's this other friend who I discovered something about when we were in high school and it completely devastated me. She was hurting in a bad way and needed to go away and be helped in a safe place. Getting ready for our prom she commented at how perfect she thought my body was and I could tell how she was still hurting about her own, even as thin as she became, and I remember how her comment hurt me so deeply. Years later, her son and my son were pen pals for a short while and we had them meet one afternoon, and it was a reunion of sorts for us as it has been over a decade since we'd last seen each other. This friend still means so much to me. I always wanted to help her and I knew I couldn't. Now a Mama of three, this friend is in a different place than we were as teenagers, and we don't live near each other, but we remain connected, still. She was the first Jesus-believer I ever knew as a kid, and that has kept us together years later.
And then another friend who I was close to in Elementary School and then all throughout high school. She's lived out of the country for so many of the years since we graduated together, and we haven't seen each other in ten years. She also fills my memory and joins a part of the stories I tell my son; I tell her this often through a note on facebook. I remember that this friend often came over to my house for sleep overs, and I remember going to her house to play. She was raised by her grandparents who were her parents, and they had this pretty collie dog, and she liked pound puppies. She had this massive playhouse in her yard with a rainbow and a Care Bear on it. I remember having spinach salad at my house for dinner, and going to Sunday Night Family Skating with she and my parents, and we kept falling down and being silly, and the spinach salad was to blame! We broke the guest room bed by foot wrestling. We recycled each other's boyfriends. She has children and years have passed between us, but we remain connected through those memories; memories that help me see that she was a sister to me as I was growing up. The truest of a sister I could have ever had.
Another friend who was in my wedding and who I haven't seen since then is expecting her first child, and I keep remembering the carefree way she had about her. And her smile - oh, her smile! She laughed so sincerely and so calmly, not overly excited. She was wise when we met in college and I was always intrigued with the freedom she experienced in her life to just live her way. I remember skipping a college class to go to some falls with her, and it was late winter when there was still snow and ice covering the falls, and we took our shoes off and walked in the cold snow, barefoot. I had my first chai tea with her. She was a journal writer and I noticed that about her. She had long dark and quite beautiful hair, and she was one of the most beautiful people I've ever known, as her spirit just radiated peace and joy. We remain connected, even though we haven't even spoken in ten years, and she remains a tremendous part of my heart.
While we lived in a different state for awhile, trying out a different place with wide open fields, I met this one friend whose life seemed to parallel mine, and yet for very different reasons. She understands the mind and yet has a heart for the Spirit of God in a deep and passionate way. She's got a lot of experienced living under her belt already, and yet she's still figuring things out and doesn't even appear to have all the answers. She was my first and only real friend while we were living away those two years, and such a gift to have received from the challenges of those years. We met for coffee every week and then started walking together. Our boy's were friends and our husband's played noon-time ball together. This friend has also moved to a different state and I'm not sure when we'll ever see each other again, but we make time for each other to reconnect by phone, even though we both detest phone talking.
Then there's this friend who has the biggest heart of anyone I have ever met, which is pretty ironic since she had heart issues growing up. She has more friends than anyone I know, and it's very likely that each friend of hers has asked her to be the guardian of their children, if they should die before their children are old enough to care for themselves. And yet, maybe all of her friends realize how many friends she has and just like me, perhaps they realize the probability that this friend would have 50-thousand or more children to care for, and so they chose not to ask her. This friend is gentle and loving and cares about everyone who lives. Her joy for life sprawls across her face and sings through her voice. Her eyes are the shiniest and sparkliest of anyone I know, and she's got this amazing smile that makes any grumpy feeling go away. Her heart radiates her whole being and just I can't get enough of this girl. This friend has her own hurts and pains, although some people would never guess because she's often too busy giving of herself to take time telling of her own life. We've lived apart since college and although we've seen each other a few times since then, and she was my best-girl in my wedding, we don't see each other often, and recently we've gone several more months than usual until we've connected by phone. A trio of children she has now, her life demands more of her time, energy and heart. I still remember her telling me that she couldn't imagine being married with two kids and a dog, and how boring that would be. I chuckle when I remember that and how she now has three little ones and a husband (and did the dog thing). This friend has taught me so much about Grace and Love, and she remains such a close part of my heart.
And then there's one friend who has showed me what friendship is more than anyone. She listens to me. She encourages me. She thoughtfully responds to me - practically everything I say - and truly considers how I might feel. She seeks God on my behalf. She speaks truth into my life and knows what inspires me, what hurts me, and what provokes me to move. This friend is wise, and yet she doesn't have it all figured out and struggles just as much as the rest of us. She's never condemned me and she's only encouraged me, more than anyone. This friend came to me by way of my husband, and how our friendship developed was out of a difficult and painful story of jealousy, and confusion. We've overcome that, through no one but God's Grace, and she's now one of the single greatest gifts of my life. I have visions of where our friendship will take us, and how we'll still be writing to each other every day when we're 80 years old. Writing has developed our friendship. She truly has been the absolute best friend to me, in a way no one else could or has. Some have come close and at certain times they were my best friend, but this friend has taught me and showed me things no one else ever has. Ever.
These people are all different.
They all live in different places of the country - New York, Washington, D.C., Illinois, Florida, Arizona. Each of these women has taught me different things at different times in my life. And yet, each of them has remained a part of my heart, even after all these years, and we have remained in contact.
Friends help us grow. Friends bring us places we never could have imagined. Friends see us vulnerable and sensitive and hurting. Friends support us and lift us up when we never realized we needed it. Friends laugh with us, play with us, and enjoy life with us. Friends stay with us and remain such a big part of our lives.
I can't imagine my life without these friends I have been thinking of lately. Each of these friends seems to symbolize a certain place in my life that was different and that needed the uniqueness of their being.
To Danielle, Erin, Candee, Joanna, Mimi, Katie and Lori...I love you all, and I so much appreciate your personal fingerprint on my life. Rich blessings to you...and much love, always and forever.