The last time I had seen them all 4 of them together was at least 6 years ago.
My husband’s 3 best friends from elementary school all the way through high school. Childhood buddies.
Since then, one of them has buried his cherished wife due to a long battle with cancer. 3 have developed illness themselves. Parents have been buried. Parents with Alzheimers are being cared for. Children were reported on. Some things were shared; other things kept private.
The courage to handle the curve balls that aging was throwing at us all was definitely present. But not really focused on. Not talked about.
As I listened, I kept hearing phrases like, “You were always…”, and, “I remember when you…”. An occasional, “Do you still…?”. Accompanied by smiles. Laughter. That warmth that comes from being known. Of being accepted.
Liked for you.
And then there’s THE BRIDGE. Yes, I am married to a guy who plays bridge with his old friends. I think it’s pretty cool actually. The four of them are all exceptionally smart. They try to massacre each other playing extremely competitive bridge. I read two books on the beach while they did this, which I haven’t done in years. Chatted with wives. (Some of them also rode bikes. Very athletic they are).
Simon and Garfunkel called old friends “bookends“. I get that. We live our lives apart from these folks who helped get our identities started. Who knew us “back when”. When we see them again, it’s like we are supported somehow.
“Oh yeah, I am me. I may have changed in some ways, but I am still me.” It feels really good. Friends are different from family. They are – just friends. They choose to give to us freely.
I have a plaque in my office. It reads, “Friends are your family of choice”.
I can remember when my parents’ began losing their closest friends. They were devastated. I know however that perhaps some of you reading this will be grieving for a friend like you would a family member. That’s really my point. Our friends invest in us. We in them. They are relationships to be absolutely treasured.
So we are now back in Arkansas. Back to reality after a few days at a lovely beach home on St. Croix. But even more fulfilling, back from being shored up by friendship – for me, 24 years old. For my husband, 55 years. From riding bikes down Elmwood Avenue to talking retirement strategies. Supporting each other through it all.
Thanks to bookends.
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