Moments ago I wrote these words to my friend Jeanie:
“Can you believe it? Here it is, the last Monday before Christmas. Oh my goodness, how did that happen so quickly?”
I laughed at myself, realizing how much I sound like both my Gram AND my mother. The same words have escaped my lips in other years and I’ve even written them to the same friend. In fact, I took a moment to peek at what I’d written to Jeanie on similar Mondays in other years.
There is something about getting older, with all its creaks and groans as my body adjusts to the demands placed on it. Certain things take longer–like getting out of bed or down the stairs to feed the cats. Other things–like entire years–disappear with a single inhale and exhale of breath. Can it really be a decade and a half since I packed up and moved across the country and started my life over? Is it really a dozen turns of the calendar since I married my husband?
Or, as I realized this morning, how can it be that Jeanie and I have faithfully written a note of encouragement to each other nearly every Monday for three years? This, today, is the gift. My fleeting thought of a racing year led me to look back on the note to her at this time last year, and I was presented with the blessing Jeanie is to me. We met at a writer’s conference, yet never sat together. We were both out walking one early morning. I was just heading out, she was just heading back. I’ve learned since she greets the world each day much earlier than I do, for though there is a two-hour time difference between us, we often delight each other by both sending and receiving emails within moments, knowing we are on each other’s hearts in the early hours. On that particular morning our five-minute conversation sparked the idea of being accountability partners for our writing. We agreed to send an email each Monday morning, to talk about our writing, to encourage each other, to check in. The amusing thing is I couldn’t remember her name. In order to write her the first day, I had to scour photos from Facebook to see who had tagged her so I could find her again.
This friendship almost didn’t happen.
We began, and of course, it became much more than an accountability check-in. Like pen pals of my mother’s era, we have shared moments beyond word counts and plot points. We have dreamed good things for our families, prayed over hurtful things, planned vacations and surprises, laughed over the ridiculous circumstances we’ve found ourselves in. We’ve shared photos, happy moments and sadnesses. We have become friends of the heart.
This is a gift not wrapped in pretty paper, nor placed on a list checked against trends in catalogues. This is better–infinitely better–because it won’t ever go out of style.