My grandma (third from the left) with some of the friends she played softball with back in the day.
I don't know if it is because I have reached a certain age, but recently circumstance has brought old friends back into my life after years of separation. I didn't part with any of these women on poor terms. Rather we became busy with the responsibilities of careers and families. In some cases moves put miles between us. In each case these were women I love who have enriched my life with laughter, shared tears, and immense wisdom.
Early this summer a mutual friend told me she had been in touch with our old friend Beth. Completely in keeping with her fearless nature, Beth had signed on to donate a kidney to a friend. When it turned out that Beth's kidney also matched a different person awaiting transplant, and another donor matched Beth's friend a whole saga began. By the time the operations were complete, the circle had expanded to include ten people giving and receiving kidneys at KU Med Center in Kansas City. By the point I heard about all this, Beth was recovering nicely and was ready for visitors. So, we went, our lunch date extending into the night. Despite not seeing one another for fifteen years, we picked up the conversation as though it had only paused a minute earlier.
About a week later I ran into another strong woman friend in the grocery store...not my usual grocery, or hers either. It has been ten years since we have seen one another despite living in the same city. When we knew each other our daughters danced, and she and I did many volunteer activities together to support the ballet. Life handed her a series of misfortunes that she certainly didn't deserve, but unsurprisingly she handled them with courage and wisdom. I am sad that I had no idea she was struggling with these challenges and therefore did nothing to reach out. I am not surprised, however, to find her on the other side as positive and strong as ever. Coincidently, she is moving closer to my house now, and we've had the opportunity to enjoy each other's company once again--picking up the thread of our friendship just where we laid it down years ago.
At the beginning of the month I received a letter from a high school friend who I have not seen in over twenty years. For ages we stayed in touched through long, colorful letters. Months might go by without hearing from each other when suddenly one of us would find a fat envelope stuffed with page after page of detailed stories of the latest off-the-wall experience one of us had. The last three or four letters I have sent over the years have missed their intended mark, and I had no idea how to find her. Out of nowhere a fat envelope stuffed with pages detailing her life fell through the mail slot in my front door one day and my heart soared.
Yesterday, I was at an inservice taking a break from a dry presentation when someone came up behind me and squeezed my shoulder. I turned around to discover an old friend, the mother of one my daughter's dearest childhood friends. Again, we hadn't seen each other for a very long time and hadn't gotten to actually visit in even longer. At the end of the day we got together and talked heart-to-heart for a couple of hours. What a joy to discover that her little girly-girl has grown up to be a chemical engineer who loves her work. My heart swelled with pride for her despite having not seen her for many years.
When I was a Brownie (about 1967) we used to sing a song at Scouts that declared Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver, but the other is gold. There is no way that I could fully appreciate the meaning of those words in my Brownie Scout days, but today I know them to be the absolute truth.
My Ten Things of Thankful this week:
Beth (and Gwen for reconnecting us)
Beth's brave contribution to the successful kidney transplants
Support, love, laughter, tears
That is more than ten, but I am blessed with an abundant life.