This is Thanksgiving in Canada, and it is a time of year special to me. This year, we were blessed to spend the weekend with one of my college friends, her husband, and her extended family who have pretty much adopted me. My friend Joëlle is one of the most elegant and refined women I know, strong and she is courageous. She has faced difficult circumstances and she has chosen to keep walking. She learned these skills from her gracious parents; she passed them on to her kids, who are preparing to pass them on to theirs now, and she is supported in all of this by John, the true love of her life. It was a privilege to be included in their celebration this year. I love her and her family with my whole heart, and she has taught me much of what it is to be a faithful friend. It is a gift I treasure.
It’s led me to think much about friendship this weekend. Certainly I’ve enjoyed many special relationships like the one I share with Joëlle. Some of them were only for a season, but they mattered and they shaped me. I have friends that I connect with only periodically but we make the news fit the time, and it’s affirming and wonderful. Other friendships are slightly unorthodox, such as the one with the guy I asked to stand up for me when I married my husband. He was the best guy-of-honor that a girl could have. He matters to me because he’s willing to do things a lot of other people aren’t.
I have friends who share their kids with me, and let me spoil them slightly because we have none of our own. They give me the privilege of sharing in their joys and their worries, and my fridge is decorated with sticker thank you notes and drawings of animal bone zoos (because everyone should know that a drawing of a zoo is so boring without the skeletons).
Each friend is precious and special and my life is better because we have invested in each other. I have been moulded and shaped. There have been challenges, certainly. There have been times when I’ve wished a friendship lasted and it couldn’t. There have been people who have disappointed me, and people who I have, in turn, disappointed. Regrets aside, I needed every one of them for those moments. I regret the losses, not the time invested.
I love these people. I love them so much, and I pray for them, rejoice, celebrate and mourn with them. My hope is that no-one will be slighted by what I’m going to say next. Make no mistake, friends, I love you all. I need you all.
For my entire life, I’ve wished for a kindred-spirit friend, like Anne of Green Gables had with Diana Barry. I knew it was out there–I witnessed it first hand with two ladies who, in the 80’s, tape recorded a letter to each other and mailed it when the tape was full. I saw tapes received, and moments hidden away to listen. It made quite an impression, and I wanted it for myself. I’ve always wished for someone to really understand me, and accept my flaws, and make me laugh at myself. Someone who would reach for me when they need support, and be there when I did. And I’ve prayed to have someone who wanted the same from me. I thought the answer to those prayers was ‘no’.
It wasn’t ‘no’, though it took fifty years to find her. We recently spent another extended period together, and it was just so easy. We supported each other as we celebrated the life of a mutual brother, we spent a long day schlepping our luggage through three airports, and then my husband and I had the joy of sharing our country with her. We spent hours laughing and talking, affirming and challenging. It was just so easy. We both commented on that.
How did we get along without each other before? Now, I can’t even imagine letting her go. We have plans to make many more memories–because, as she said, we’re good at it. Our husbands like us, and like what we are together and who we are for each other.
For those of you wishing for a Diana to your Anne, don’t give up. Maybe it won’t take you fifty years, and maybe it will take fifty-one, but don’t quit looking, because there’s nothing else like it.
So for today, I am giving thanks for Nancy, my kindred-spirit, my best friend. I am blessed by her every single day, and often more than once.