My mom’s best friend was in town last week from Connecticut, for the first time in sixteen years, and for them it was as if no time had passed. They didn’t need to get reacquainted. Nothing, though everything, had changed.
Mom and Jude didn’t click when they first met: Mom was quiet and serious, Jude was outgoing and funny. Mom loved poetry, Jude loved a party. But when they started dating roommates they saw each other a lot, and as often happens, opposites attracted. Though they were different on the surface, they recognized in one another a similar soul. It just took some time to uncover. They soon became deep friends, and roommates. When Mom married after her sophomore year, Jude was her maid of honor. When Mom’s young husband died just six months later, Jude moved in to take care of her.
It was the kind of friendship you wait for your whole life, and then hang on to for the rest of it.
Then they both married, Jude moved far away, and life happened. Kids, jobs and a thousand miles made visits wait. Now Jude has retired, and last week was their 40th college reunion, so a visit was finally planned. It was wonderful to see them together, instantly picking up where they left off all those years ago. The same women, but older, wiser; talking about grandchildren instead of boyfriends, telling different jokes but laughing with the same voices as before, with a shared history that makes even laughing more fun.
It’s beautiful when someone is given to you as a gift, allowing you to know and be known, deeply. Someone who has your back no matter how far away, who you can call at any hour, blubbering with tears or squealing with joy, who knows by the tone of your voice, in two seconds, that something is up.
Julie showed up my sophomore year of high school, fresh from California and therefore cooler than anyone else. She wore black babydoll dresses, listened to Jane’s Addiction and had been to Haight-Ashbury. Whoa. She was a novelty, but I soon realized she was also a real person. We had met as little kids, in ballet, but as we remember it we didn’t like each other then. Now as sixteen-year-olds, the older versions of us found a similar soul, too. It didn’t take long to be inseparable – getting ourselves into trouble, getting ourselves out of trouble, making each other laugh ‘til we peed, holding each other up when the drama of adolescence brought us down. We were roommates in college, too. She married our junior year and I was her maid of honor. And when my now husband told me he didn’t “want to pursue a relationship” with me and I was a wreck, he dropped me off at Julie’s because he knew I needed her.
Now, after each getting married, having babies, living twenty years more life (gasp), she is still an essential element of my sanity, of lifting me up, of making me laugh. She knows me better than anyone other than my husband – even better in some ways, as a woman. She’s got my back, I can call her in joy or pain, she knows by my voice when I’m having a bad day. She is a gift, as much as any other I’ve received. I know my Mom would say the same of Jude.
What would life look like without a bestest best friend? I don’t want to know, actually. I’m hoping Julie and I get to our 40th college reunion, post-kid-raising, with a bit of time on our hands to spend together, and realize that the years haven’t changed what made us friends in the first place. That having someone who’s in it for the long haul is a gift indeed.