Submitted Date 08/13/2019

"I had the greatest friend when I was a little kid...and I got to keep her for the rest of my life". I came across this quote (no author was noted on it) and simply had to use it as an opening statement about forever kinds of friendships. I was compelled to use it because for many of us who have been lucky enough to find that one true lifelong friendship, it fits so well...much like a favorite pair of blue jeans you can't ever imagine yourself parting with. I happen to be one of those fortunate people to have had this experience. My best friend and I have known each other since we were five years old right up to the present day. We lived right around the corner from each other. I seemed to always gravitate to her house to play rather than her coming to mine, mostly because she had a sister with cerebral palsy and it made things difficult for her. Every time she would attempt to leave for school or anywhere else and her sister happened to see her leaving, she would have a complete inconsolable meltdown. A couple of times I happened to have been there and saw firsthand how difficult it was anytime we attempted to leave her house. I got the impression that she thought she was leaving forever. Her sister had no conception of time or what going to school or anywhere else temporarily meant. It broke my heart. My friend's mother would have to distract her each day when she had to leave for school or anywhere else on her own to avoid this difficult situation. However, her sister was amazing. Even with her disability I remember her being so physically fit and capable of so many things in that regard. Chronologically in age she was only a few years younger than my friend but mentally she only had the approximate capacity of a two year old. It was the first time in my life that I had ever been made aware of someone with a disability like hers.

My friend's parents were far more affluent than my parents were so because of this I found myself on the receiving end of many fun excursions with them. They owned a speed boat and during the summer months they would always invite me to go along with them to a special lake they enjoyed for swimming and water skiing. I remember that I had been somewhat afraid of the water as a kid but I managed to get over that fear during those summers. Eventually, once I made it up on the skiis (which took about twenty or so attempts and swallowing half the lake) I discovered the thrilling exhiliration of that sport. They also owned mini bikes as well. Every once in a while they would invite me to go to the desert with them and ride up and down the numerous trails there. I watched in awe as my friend's sister participated right along with everyone else. It was as if her disability melted away while engaging in these activities. I believe being such an active family was their way of helping themselves as well as her to remain calm and focused. Their family seemed like a happy one but there were tiimes I couldn't help but feel a deep sense of sadness. I recall one day while at school during recess a group of "mean girls" were talking smack and laughing about her sister being a "mental retard" as they called it. As we overheard them, my friend began to cry. When I saw how much hurt and sadness there was on her face, it made me cry right along with her. I remember telling her to forget about those girls, they were ignorant and meanspirited and we could just ignore them and that there were many other kids we could play with. I think it was at this point in our relationship when we truly bonded as best friends.

After Junior High my Dad got a job much further away from the town we lived in and so we had to move. Coincidentally, her parents decided to move at that time as well but even so, we have always kept in touch from that time to the present day. We saw each other off and on all through High School and she ended up being one of my Maids of Honor in my wedding. After I got married and had my children soon after, we drifted. Our lives went in very different directions. These were the days of landlines, no cell phones. Every once in a while one of us would call the other but we didn't actually see each other as often as we had before. But whenever the occasion came and we did manage to find a way to meet up, it was as if no time had come between us or had passed at all. We picked up our conversation as easily as if we had just spoken or seen each other the day before. We have been best friends for over 50 years. I feel blessed and I am so grateful to be able to say that. Both my Mother and my grown daughter have each had the same kind of best friend. Whenever we talk about our best friends we sound the same as we describe how it feels to have the type of wonderful relationship with them that we do. When you are fortunate enough to spend your whole life having that one special friend, no time, distance or life changes will ever break that bond. Even if you disagree or have different views on pretty much anything it doesn't change the dynamic of who you are on a soul level to each other as besites. The feelings are palpable and unbreakable no matter what. For some besties it can almost seem as if you are identical twins, feeling each other's feelings even if you're not always physically together or talking all the time. There have been times over the years when I literally sensed that my best friend needed to talk to me and I would call her, only to find out how true that was.

It has always seemed strange to me how so many people can drift into our lives over the course of time and then seemingly drift out, sometimes with no real explanation as to why it had to happen. The way I feel about this is that if these people who drifted in were really and truly our friends and genuinely cared about us and our lives, it makes absolutely no sense that there would be a good enough reason for them to ever drift out permanently. But these types of people are not our true friends. They are merely acquaintances. I have had and continue to have a lot of acquaintances in my life. To me, they have always seemed superficial. They serve the purpose of filling in the gaps between the time you get to spend with the person or persons who are your true friends. In my opinion, true friends are the people who always have your back, support you and keep you going, especially when things are not going great in your life or their's. With a true friend they are always there with an honest and trustworthy manner and mindset. A true friend is someone who will walk BESIDE you through your life no matter what. Haven't you ever noticed with aquaintances everything seems conditional somehow?...or they act wierd and/or differently towards you if you are in a group situation? Acquaintances usually stop talking to you alltogether if you have some type of minor disagreement. And sometimes, either having money or not having money can also be a factor in an aquaintance type of relationship. In the reality of a true, meaningful friendship none of those scenarios would apply, ever. That's how you know who your true friends are and those who are nothing more than basic aquaintance types.

Two of my favorite quotes are these:

"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out"...Walter Winchell

"The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart"...Elisabeth Foley



Julie 🌺


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