Stories and thoughts about family and life

Friendship replaced by family

on February 26, 2012

My best friend was an unlikely happening.  When we were five years old, in Mrs. Thomas’ kindergarten class, we really couldn’t stand each other.  She obviously saw something we couldn’t and decided we should be friends.  By the end of that first year we were inseparable.  We had a special bond.  Her parents were my parents.  My parents were her parents.  We immediately melded into one another’s families, and though we were from dramatically different backgrounds we became sisters.

How different could two girls be?  Me brunette, her blonde.  Me a farm kid, she lived in town.  Me about writing and word expression, she about music and musical expression.  She involved in the church, and me not.  Me in the military, and her not.  It was a very unlikely melding of relationships, and it reminds me how much opposites really do attract.  In the 7th grade she announced she would be moving away, and it broke my heart.  I was forced to make other friends who also found special places in my heart, but not quite like Donna.  Before the days of cell phones, texting and Facebook, we had to beg our mothers to allow the occasional long-distance call.  We had to beg for time together, and usually got to spend a week or so at Christmas or over the summer in one another’s company.

We snuck out of one another’s houses together.  We double-dated, and we dreamed together.    Donna has spent the past several years living in Texas, but that hasn’t stopped us.  We’ve been able to see each other on occasion, but it’s been hard to work it in.  I had flown down to Houston once to help her drive home to see her mom.  She came home when my oldest child was born, and I remember her arriving in my hospital room, and how much it meant that she was there.  I was present at the birth of each one of her children.  We’ve helped each other move, and we’ve spent hours on the phone over the years or catching the occasional meal when possible, catching up on the current events.  Talking through marital strife, problems with kids, problems with work, or just general “girl talk.”    We’ve shared our dreams and our turmoil, and we’ve laughed until we’ve cried.  We’ve fought too, but thankfully we’ve had enough sense to come back together and get back on track.  In that sense we are truly family.  It’s never occurred to either of us that we didn’t belong in one another’s lives.

I’ve known her almost as long as I’ve been alive, and I can’t believe how much of one another each of us holds.  It’s a very precious thing–a friendship.  I was reminded of that so much yesterday.  Donna moved back to Arkansas over this past summer.  We made all kinds of plans about how we’d get together all the time, and we were gonna live it up.  Then life happened, and we both were very busy with work and family dramas and days turned into weeks and weeks into months.  We’ve seen each other for a few hours here and there, but it’s not been quite the “all the time” either of us expected.   When she called and asked if we could spend the day together, I immediately thought of something wonderful for us to do.  Something pampering and quiet and something we wouldn’t have to share if we didn’t want to.  We drove to Hot Springs, tried out a new bath house, had a wonderful massage, and relaxed.  I mean really, really relaxed.  And we both needed it so very much!

When we left the bathhouse, and found lunch, we talked about the latest issues we both were having.  I had several activities planned to give her a “taste” of Hot Springs, and allow us plenty of time to catch up, but it seemed like the day was passing so quickly.  We really had barely talked at all.  And then it happened.  We stopped at Walgreen’s to grab a bottle of water and found our “kid-like” groove again.  We bought chocolate truffles (two varieties, I might add), and drove down Bathhouse Row, eating truffles and talking about how our lives had developed and how much weight we had gained and what our kids were up to and how their opinions influenced our lives.  By the time we reached the Mountain tower and then drove to the racetrack to watch the horses run, we were on to the beauty and personalities and things that have happened in each of our pasts.  You see, she and I have both had some pretty dramatic things that have occurred, but we’ve both tried to make the best of bad situations and have tried to use those situations to help make our futures better.   From marital and friend issues to family occurrences to how different we are as people.  We sat there in the cool air at the racetrack, watching those beautiful creatures hit their stride around the track and taking in the springtime Arkansas air.    It was as though we were re-discovering ourselves, but with such familiarity that it moved at almost-lightning speed.

We watched the 8th and 9th races that afternoon.  Before the 9th race, they previewed a horse who sustained an injury last year and they feared might not race this season.  That particular race was his return, and they were curious to see if he would do as well as he had the previous season.  I watched as he rounded the bend, a stride ahead of the other horses, and as he moved closer to the finish line was one furlong, and then two ahead.  He glided across the finish line with such grace and poise, as if he knew he had something to prove, and knew he had nailed it.  I hope that I appear to have it half as much together as that horse as I run my race.  Donna and I were deep in conversation about our lives and what each of us do well and what makes us each insecure.  I realized how much we have really missed about one another, and how precious that afternoon was by allowing us to reconnect.  We left the racetrack, still deep in conversation, and talked the entire way home.  We gained back so much yesterday afternoon, I couldn’t believe how much closer I felt to her by the end of the day.  When she pulled out of my driveway, I felt so fulfilled.    I have my “sister” back, and I’ve missed her a lot!



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