It all started with my Aunt Michelle, this brilliant string of unexpected visits.
Then came our friends from Virginia, the Blum Family. Our visit with the Blums was short but oh, so sweet. For not quite 24 hours we talked, and laughed, and enjoyed a Michigan summer afternoon at a nearby park. We feasted on Oberon brats and strawberry cake with frozen custard. Vanilla coke ran cold and plentiful as we picked up where we left off in that sacred way only old friends do.
These visits would have been enough to make my summer but, wait, there’s more!
Just days before the Blums arrived I received the following text from one of our North Carolina friends:
Am I okay with that??? Oh my goodness, YES!!! The fact that this brave woman would willingly tack on an extra seven hours driving time with four children in the car (which let’s face it means an extra ten hours at least!) to come and see me makes me feel so, so loved. I haven’t seen this sister-of-the-heart friend in almost four years and to have her here with me, to see our kiddos playing together, to actually feel our words and hugs and laughter exchanged in the flesh fills me with so much joy.
And really, these visits from family and friends aren’t just bright spots in my summer line-up; they are encouragement for my soul.
Throughout my life the end of close relationships has left me wondering, time and again, do friendships ever last? Is there such a thing as a forever friend?
I remember the silver necklace I exchanged with my best friend at the end of sixth grade. A tiny heart with a jagged cut down the middle. She kept one half and I kept the other. One side reading, “Friends,” the other side, “Forever.”
Two months later my family packed a moving van to the brim and rolled away to another state. What turned out to be forever was 800 miles between us. It was the first real lost I ever felt.
Since then friends have walked in and out of my life. They moved, I moved. Hearts, beliefs, and loyalties changed. Some relationships fell to pieces in a burst of hurt and misunderstanding, and some simply faded in natural ways. Always there was this question that lingered in their wake: How could these friendships that I thought would last forever suddenly be gone?
But there’s also this lingering proof, this evidence that friendship can last. There’s these friends that brave miles, and hours, and long distance phone calls, texts, and messages. They use Skype and FaceTime and yearly visits to prove there is such a thing as forever friends.
And I am thankful. I’m thankful to have these friends in my life, and I’m thankful for the chance to be that sort of friend in return.
A few days ago I came across a tiny silver necklace of two birds sitting side by side on the limb of a tree. It made me think of the relationship I share with a friend here in town that has become so dear to me. My husband and I are facing the possibility of a move and our friendship may be forced into the long distance category.
But this friend, she’s of the forever variety. I know this in my heart. No matter what happens to the amount of miles between us, the two of us will remain as close as the birds on that silvery branch.
I bought that necklace and gave it to her over lunch and tears and fears of the future. I guess it was my way of showing her what our recent visits from family and friends have shown me this summer.
“There’s one thing we don’t have to fear,” I told her, “this friendship we share…no matter what…”
Because the message that lies between the hearts of two friends never really changes. Birds of a feather really do flock together…
Forever and for always.