A couple of weeks ago I picked up the phone and called my old friend Deb because I needed to ask her for a favor. I wanted her to rally support for a fundraiser in West Fargo, N.D. for my young nephew who is battling a rare form of lung cancer. I was feeling a little emotional when I made the call, but the familiar sound of her voice soothed me the second she said: “Oh, my God, Brenda! Hello! What’s up?”
For a moment I was home again and we were young girls back at her cabin on Lake Maude with our quilt spread on the dock, the sun hot above our heads and a light breeze blowing in off the water. Rubbing baby oil on our arms and legs to enhance our tans, we chatted about school, our boyfriends and what we were going to do that night. I could picture her big smile and the self assured way she tilts her head when she’s listening. Deb and I grew up together in Fargo, and although since high school we have never again lived near one another, I knew that she would come through. I wasn’t disappointed either. Deb spread the word within her own circle of friends, posted on social media and attended the event herself reporting back to me details that would have been impossible for me to know since I live so far away and could not make it back. It meant the world to me.
I thought about my friends, the forever ones like Deb, and the newer ones too. Of course, every friend is a treasure to have as they come and go through the chapters of our lives, but it is really the old friends who define us. You may live thousands of miles apart and not see them for years but you know that they are always there for you. You can call them up and resume your relationship as if nothing had changed and you hadn’t been apart for even one minute. External things in our lives may have changed, but the friendship is still there stronger than ever. The feelings for each other haven’t changed one bit either and they never will. Friends like these mean so much because on some deep and profound level, they are remind us of our capacity for love. They are living proof of our ability to connect with others in a truly meaningful way.
I don’t know when I’ll speak to Deb again. We don’t have expectations of each other. That’s not what we do. Every now and then, out of the blue one of us might give a call, but if it doesn’t happen, that’s okay too. I still know she’s there for me and she knows that I’m here for her and that’s enough. It’s funny, because the last time I spoke with her I said: “Goodbye, I love you.”
“I know you do,” she said. “I Love you too.”