Thank you for being my childhood friend.
You were my friend before anyone else was my friend. You’re the one I knew the longest. You’re the one that comes to mind when my daughter and her friend Ellie paint their faces pink or laugh until chocolate chip cookies come spilling out of their mouths.
We shared most everything between preschool and high school.
We played, and we played, and then we played some more. We played in my room, we played in your room, we played on the stairs, on the deck, on the swing set, on the playground, in your treehouse, at the beach, at the park, at school, and just about every other place a kid could possibly play.
And who knows how many birthday parties we shared? We brought it, girl. Pin the tail on the donkey, Strawberry Shortcake, roller skating, Pizza Hut followed by a movie, sleepovers, and a sweet sixteen bash to name a few. Birthday cakes topped with sugary-hard candy letters and gumdrops were awesome, almost always homemade by our moms.
Speaking of moms and dads, there were plenty of Barb’s sloppy joes and homemade pickles (the post I wrote about her pickles was a reader’s favorite by the way). And my dad would remind us to abide by “Minnesota State High School League” rules, which we both knew meant…don’t even TRY a drop of alcohol!
We did dance together, band together, choir together, musicals together, prom together (remember my lovely turquoise sequined dress and your Barbie-style sheath with puffy gold sleeves?), and we even collected Muffy VanderBears together. Tennis was a blast. Singles, doubles, we did it together. And remember how strangers thought we were twins?
And then there were the random memories in the making…playing dress up and pretending we were models, eating Totinos pizzas on your basement couches with our families, stuffing so many Skittles in our mouth we ended up spitting them out everywhere, dancing at Busters night club for teens, chicken McNuggets with sweet and sour sauce, and braiding Sam’s hair at tennis camp.
But high school graduation was inevitable, and before we knew it, we were separated. Different colleges, different paths.
You came back for my wedding where we regrouped for two wonderful days with the closest of friends and family.
Then, for a short time before we had kids and before you were married, we had the fortune of reconnecting as full-fledged adults through date nights, dinner parties, and maybe even a holiday party here and there. But things changed.
I had babies, and you moved far away. And once again, we found ourselves on different paths.
But I’m so happy you found true love while you were away. God always knew it would happen that way. Your childhood home, the place where we formed so many memories, was transformed into a beautiful gathering place to celebrate you and your love, for one night only. So we celebrated. There was a fire, and pickles, and all of our old teachers were there. We hugged, we chatted with old friends, and your dad’s toast brought tears to my eyes. Because yet another chapter was closing and another was beginning in this book called life, in this story called friendship.
My third baby was born in your birth month, and shortly after her birth, I found out your first baby was due in my birth month. When I contacted you and discovered you had made those same connections, something shifted inside of me, reminding me gently…time passes, kids grow up, distance sometimes separates more than we’d like, but memories can never be stolen.
We’ve been separated by distance for many years now. You know no details about my life, and I know no details about yours. But the special place you held, the special place you hold in my heart has not been abandoned.
I’ve looked for an adult friend who might fill your shoes. Someone I could laugh and be funny with, someone who’d drop by and go with me anywhere, anytime, someone who knew every detail of my life from the very start all the way through today, someone who’d invite me to every birthday party whether I fit with the rest of the group or not, someone who knew I was on a different path but loved me as “Ames” anyway.
But the truth is, I’ve never found that person, nor will I ever. Because the childhood friendship we had is irreplaceable. No one will fill your shoes like you did. It’s impossible. So I’ll accept our childhood friendship for what it was, for what it is, a gift, a beautiful chapter in the book of life.
Thank you for being the friend that was always there,