True friendships are not always easy to come by.  They are wonderful gifts from God.  Like other wonderful gifts from God, such as creation and children, they have to be cared for and nurtured to maintain strength.  Sometimes when children who are best friends grow up there is such a cataclysmic change in the friendship’s normal settings that the friendship dwindles and dies.  This can be absolutely devastating but I’m thankful that it doesn’t have to be.

This is my best friend, April.

Sometimes the best friendships are in fact easy to come, as easy to come by as meeting on the first day of Kindergarten when we just so happened to be seated next to each other.  April’s Dad had just joined the pastoral team at our church so we were destined to be together for 6 days of the week every day of our school year lives for many years.  We were fast friends.  Fast best friends.  Even then we shared a bizarre sense of humor.  We were connected at the brain stem from the age of 5 to 18.

I’ve written about several of our adventures and… er… uh… misadventures many times here on this blog.  Here.   HereHereHereHereHereAnd here.  Oh and April was such an integral part of my life that she is also featured here on my About Me page. I wouldn’t be who I am now had she not been in my life.

But April and I have lived over 2,000 miles away from each other for the past 13 years.  That kind of distance is hard to surmount.  That kind of distance makes maintaining a friendship a lot more work.  There is no more shared experience.  There is no more of what made up normal for the 13 years prior to that.  Friendships inevitably change and those changes can be extremely hard to bear.

For years April and I had had very few arguments or disagreements.  I remember one particular Monopoly game that we played in second grade that ended in an argument, after which we decided we’d better never play Monopoly again if it was to ensue such discord in an otherwise perfect best friendship.

But as we have lived so far apart we have realized that unless we very purposefully make known to each other what is happening in our lives, all the important events both good and bad, how we felt at various times, etc… that those things are lost forever because we cannot know what we are not told.  Life just happens and it’s so easy to just get caught up in it.  Misunderstandings are so much easier to come by when all we have to go on are phone conversations and e-mails where intonations and implications are easier to misunderstand than they would be over a cup of  coffee or during a long walk & talk.  But I think we are learning.  It may have taken us 13 years to adjust to life and friendship at such a distance but I am so thankful to say that I think we are figuring it out and I pray that we can continue on that trajectory.

My family and I arrived in California two weeks ago on a Thursday night.  We were exhausted and weatherbeaten.  On Friday I spent nearly five hours at my brother’s hospital bedside.  No one can understand my amazement and joy upon walking back into my house that afternoon and finding there my best friend of 26 years, April.  We hugged and cried and hugged and cried and talked and cried.  And we did this at as many meetings as possible over that weekend.  And it was priceless.

Only a best friend would decide in the morning to jump on a plane to be with her friend and then be there by the afternoon.  We had so much to talk through.  Things to let each other in on.  Apologies to make.  Stories to be shared.  Delayed comforts to offer. Memories to laugh about.

Perhaps April will never know the depth of my gratitude for her desire to be there with me at that time.  I don’t know if I could ever express just how blessed I am to have her in my life in terms of our intertwined childhoods, our bumpy transition into adulthood, now in the thick of life and then into the future where though we are most likely going to be friends separated by distance for a long time, very possibly forever, we will know that we love one another as we are and are there for each other no matter what.  She has shown that to me.

Oh, and I’m super happy that she let me take her picture too.  It reminded me of our days in high school photography class… minus the boys and the dark room.  She’s beautiful inside and out.

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