Friends forever

Last week was such a sweet and wonderful week at the beach with my family and my NaNa who will be 99 years young one month from today! One day we had five generations there. NaNa now has two great great grandchildren.

While there, I received news that my oldest and dearest friend’s grandmother had  died. I have known Sarah since I was in the second grade. I was living in Thomasville at the time, but my grandparents lived in Waycross and so on my visits I would get to spend the night at Sarah’s and at her Mimi’s too. Sarah was two grades behind me, and  although we are two years apart, I treated her like my little sister.  We were and still are so much alike.We have the same taste in clothes, and even today I had to get the name of the color of lipstick she was wearing.

I moved back to Waycross when I was twelve and our friendship just continued to grow. I left the private school my sophomore year to be a cheerleader, and two years later,  Sarah did the same thing.  I went to UGA and pledged, Chi O, and two years later, Sarah did too. Of course, she  became my little sister in the sorority.  I spent my junior year in college working on a dude ranch in Wyoming, and sure enough, Sarah followed in my footsteps. I teased her on the night of her rehearsal dinner, that something was wrong with this picture, because she was actually making a huge life decision before I had!

When I moved to Atlanta, we would see each other as often as we could and everytime it was as if we picked up exactly where we had left off.  We decided to be more intentional about it after she had two children and life was hectic.  We began to have lunch once a month. There is something so comforting about a friend who has known you in every season of your life. Sarah and I grew up together, knew each other’s families so well. ( Her aunt is my mother’s best friend and I have called her Aunt Wanda since I have known her)  We played dolls, store and school together. We never bickered.

So, when I got the news about her Mimi, who was 96, I knew I had to be in Waycross. I did not have any appropriate clothes at the beach, so I called my fabulous manager and had her go to my house and overnight my dress and shoes. I called Sarah and said I would be there!  I went to Waycross on Sunday afternoon and went over to Sarah’s house and was there for three hours. And once again, our friendship is like an old shoe, that is so comfortable and gets more so with age.  Her youngest, who is now seven,  crawled up into my lap and I began to tell her stories about when Sarah and I were little girls. Sarah, her mom and I later sat around that kitchen table where I spent so many meals as a child, laughing and reminiscing about Mimi. It brought back so many wonderful memories.

Four years ago, Sarah and her precious husband and three children moved to Athens. I remember the day she called me at the shop to tell me they were moving. I had the biggest lump in my throat. We promised we would keep up and still see each other, but life happens and unless one really makes the effort, time goes by and it does not happen. I realized yesterday, I have not seen her in four years. Yes, we talk on birthdays and send facebook messages, but that is not the same! So yesterday, we decided we were going to begin again our once a month lunches somehow.

Today, Mom and I went early for lunch with family and close friends before the service. The church ladies’ made a wonderful lunch, and it was so great to see so many familiar faces from my childhood. I would not have been anywhere else in the world today, but right with my oldest and most precious friend, who has laughed and cried and experienced life with me. I was so glad that I could walk through one more season with her.

Michael W. Smith wrote a very popular song many years ago about friends, and the refrain is:

“And friends are friends forever if the Lord’s the Lord of them, and a friend will not say never ’cause the welcome will not end, though it’s hard to let you go, in the Father’s hands we know that a lifetime’s not too long to live as friends.”

That song sums up my friendship with Sarah and I am glad I have more of a lifetime to live as friends with her!