Ever since I can remember, I have been blessed with great friends. I attended the same school from second grade through college, so I enjoyed a real consistency of companionship. I have friends I’ve known for more than thirty years who I could call today if I needed them.
Throughout high school, there was a group of us—six girls—and we were each other’s best friends. We had a lot of shared interests but the most important common thread in our group was our lack of boyfriends. We didn’t have to choose between dates and friends. It just wasn’t an issue. Our Friday nights were free to hang with the girls.
Within this circle of friends, we each had a role to play: Melissa was the mother hen, driving us on road trips in her parents’ mini-van. Mature before her time and an intuitive nurturer, you could always count on Melissa to have a “mom’s supply” of necessary items in her purse. Liz was the creative genius. She was never bored. Liz could easily say your name backwards. She was the one who suggested we whistle in harmony on the way to class or invent a new handwriting style. Rachel made sure we kept it real. Her dry, dry, dry sense of humor cut through every situation until you could see the ridiculousness of the moment and read it for what it truly was. Jenne had the built-in map skills. She was all no non-sense and get-it-done with a heavy dose of kindness and compassion. Jenne kept us moving in the right direction—literally. Karen was the artistic one. She created beauty on canvases and with found objects. She made us jewelry boxes from reclaimed pizza boxes and a lobster costume for herself out of red felt and wood glue. Karen’s art was no respecter of labels.
I’m not exactly sure what my role was in this group, or what it is now. Maybe my purpose was to be grateful for it and document the uniqueness of these friendships.
Those five ladies prepared me for the relationships I have had since high school, like our friends who lived across the street when we were first married and finding our way in a new city. Those friends who became mothers at the same time as me were my lifeline to sanity.
I continue to have friends who amaze me. These relationships have been forged at church and at my kids’ schools and sports teams. They help me with pickup and drop-off. We stand side-by-side for hours, shivering at soccer games and cooking for teacher appreciation lunches.
Some days, they share large but mostly hidden, secret parts of themselves, honoring me with their trust. Other days, they tell me little things, like when my friend told me her magnolia tree smells like lemonade when she mows around it in the summertime. These small gifts make me smile and help me know them more fully. When I get bad news, they text and ask how they can help. When I get good news, they text and tell me they cried happy tears for me.
I often feel undeserving of their love and concern. No matter what, these friendships have encouraged me to be a better friend—to show up and be real and laugh easily and cry readily. It will take me the rest of my life to pay them back for their devotion, but it’s a privilege to try.