A week ago today, my best childhood friend died suddenly. There we are in the picture above, sitting on a deck at our first summer camp–the two girls intentionally wearing identical bathing suits. She moved next door to me in the middle of grade school, and we were nearly inseparable after that: walking to school together, having sleepovers, attending the same church, jumping on our neighbor's trampoline, making clothes for our Barbie dolls and later for ourselves, learning to knit, writing and putting on plays, riding our bikes to the library and coming home with the baskets full of books, and so many other things. When my family later moved to Florida in the summer between eighth and ninth grade, we wrote letters nearly daily that first year–actual letters, on paper, by hand, sent with stamps. She came to visit, sometimes for weeks at a time. We were in each other's weddings.
But then adult life set in with work and families and budgets and we rarely saw each other, the last time about 12 years ago. There have been Christmas cards, the occasional but rare email, and Facebook. A couple months ago, though, she and I had a lengthy and meaningful private FB message conversation and as quickly as those messages could be sent, the friendship–always there but buried by time and distance and the changes that add up over time–flared and burned bright. Her funeral was yesterday, far from me, and I think of that conversation, which took place with her death no where in sight, as a gift.
As you've been reading this, if an old friend has popped into your mind, and he or she is still living, think about reaching out to them today and tell them they mean something to you. Tell them they had a share in shaping who you are for the good. Tell them they brought you joy.
[Picture: Can you spot the two girls with matching bathing suits? From a brochure for the summer camp we went to, Covenant Pines.]