It has been said that people come into our lives for a reason, a season or a lifetime. Sometimes they are there for a specific purpose, and once that purpose has been fulfilled, they move on. Other people are there for a phase of our lives before the friendship drifts apart for whatever reason. Then there are those who are there for the long haul, no matter what life throws at either one of you.
Jenny came into my life when we were both 10. She is still there now, and we have made a pact that when we’re old, we’re going to sit on a porch on rocking chairs doing our knitting. Well, Jenny will knit and I will probably be doing some writing on an old-person tablet with extra-large font. I cannot knit.
When you’ve been friends with someone for 33 years, you collect a lot of memories with them. Today, in honour of Jenny’s birthday, I want to share some of those moments.
1. We were new kids together at school. We stood there side by side as the teacher introduced us to the rest of the class. We pretty much stayed side by side until we graduated high school.
2. When we were about 13, Jenny caught a bad cold that did some very weird things to her speech. This was during her phase of calling me “Spazzhead”. Try to imagine what the word “Spazzhead” would sound like when spoken by someone whose head has been stuffed full of bubble wrap. During recess one day, Jenny kept saying “Spazzhead” over and over, just because it sounded so funny. We were laughing so hard we couldn’t even sit up straight.
3. One Monday, Jenny came to school with her eyes red from crying all night. The previous day, her family had seen the immediate aftermath of a serious car crash on the highway. Jenny described the scene to me, and I was horrified just listening to it. For her to have actually seen it must have been absolutely traumatic. As she told me about it, she broke down in tears again. I could not think of any words to say, so I just held her.
4. When we were 12 or 13, we went on a school field trip to the zoo, and we were admitted right into an enclosure with blue cranes. For reasons known only to God and to it, one of the birds was instantly fascinated by me. The damned thing had me dancing in circles around the enclosure, never making contact with me but getting close enough to make me very nervous. Jenny’s attempts to help me were thwarted by the tears that were running down her face as a result of her laughing so much.
5. During my university years, I got myself into big trouble, but I didn’t tell anyone about it. While I was trying to pick up the pieces of my life afterward, I did something that hurt Jenny badly. It took a couple of years, but she forgave me and I had my friend back.
6. On a beautiful sunny day, Jenny said “I do” to the love of her life. She was, without any doubt, the most beautiful woman in the world as she walked down the garden aisle with her father. The wedding was small and simple, and the air was filled with love. When you looked at Jenny and her new husband, you just knew they were going to be together forever.
7. In my late 20′s, I used a sizeable bonus from work to fund a holiday to Greece and Wales. Jenny, who was heavily pregnant, did not follow my instructions to hold off on having the baby until I got back. As I was sitting down to breakfast in my B&B near Cardiff Castle, Jenny’s husband called me with news of the birth. It was quite a birth story with many anxious moments, but Jenny and her new baby boy were doing OK. When she asked me to be the godmother, I cried with joy.
8. When my dad died, I forced myself to hold it together. I had to go through the logistics of traveling alone from Canada to South Africa, and when I got there, I needed to be strong enough to help my mom deal with the aftermath of losing a loved one. As I stood outside the church before the funeral, Jenny arrived with her mom and came right over to give me a hug. It was only then that I allowed myself to cry.
9. Last year, I took another unexpected trip to South Africa following the death of a beloved aunt. In spite of the circumstances, there were some rays of sunshine during my time there. One of these was a day with Jenny. We had a marvelous time getting rained on during a bird show and then having a leisurely lunch together. That perfect day was capped off by a phone chat with my now-almost-teenage godson.
Jenny and I live on opposite sides of the world, but that does not get in the way of a friendship like this one. Today, this amazing person celebrates a birthday, and even though she is thousands of miles away, I am celebrating with her.
Happy birthday, my dear friend. Thank you for putting up with me all these years.
(Photo credit: Jixar. This picture has a creative commons attribution license.)