Last Friday my daughter and I went to brunch with my best friend from middle school and her daughter. We’ve known each other since we were 12 years old with pimples and flat chests. It’s so incredibly fun when we are together. The laughter is loud (ask the people around us), the stories are never ending and the shared loved is obvious.
We chuckle because we were strong-minded feisty pre-teens when we first met, and we both have determined and sassy daughters now. Do they call that karma? They keep us on our toes, but we secretly admire the sass because we see ourselves in them. Funny how life works.
We have walked through motherhood together- from poking fun at our patient husbands to seeking parenting advice to holding each other emotionally when life gets difficult. We send pictures back and forth of our families and celebrate good things that happen to those we love. We have permission to brag, and we have permission to cry. We root for each other’s kids, just as we root for each other.
When she found out I had miscarried between my first and second child, she immediately called me—unable to talk through her heavy sobs. When my sweet mother-in-law passed away after a very short battle with cancer, she sent me a card a week for months letting me know she was thinking of us. When her oldest son who is married now had a wild little kids birthday party, she put me on the big-ass cotton candy machine because it was the crappiest, messiest, and worst job and well… I’ll never let her forget that.
We’ve been friends for so long I can’t remember which of us is the bad influence, although my guess is it is her. Wink wink.
She’s the Laverne to my Shirley.
Over the years, we’ve watched each other grow up and grow old. We’ve walked through all the trials and tribulations, victories and defeats, joys, and sorrows together. We know, admire, and adore each other’s parents. I still slip up and call her by her maiden name, even though she has been married for 30 years. We share the same wedding anniversary, just a few years apart. She knew me “way back when” and has a completely different view of who I am today than those who have just known me for a short time. We have a lifetime of shared memories.
Simply put, she knows my history.
And there lies the real treasure of having a long-term friend. They offer a kind of knowing and trusting that can’t be manufactured or bought. There is no substitute for time and experience in getting to truly know someone. People who know your history feel more like family than friend. It’s a different kind of connection. Friendships that took root in childhood or your teenage years offer a level of trust that is priceless. They are your war buddies. You survived the trenches together and you came out all the better for it.
Your bond is unshakeable.
When someone knows your history, words are no longer needed. You don’t need to explain things in the way you do with newer friendships. Somehow, they just know. It’s instinctive and it’s deep. They know your ins and outs, your hurdles and your highs, your struggles, and your successes. They have walked in valleys with you, and they have cheered for you when you summited big mountains. They have seen you change, evolve, and grow into the person you are and loved you each step of the way, even if you were a bitch at times.
They offer you a different level of grace and different level of safety. There are friends in life and then there are friends FOR life. Old friends sum up the latter.
My daughter starts her senior year of high school tomorrow. (Insert heavy sigh). I am both excited and anxious for her. Priceless friendships start when we are young so I pray she has the wisdom to invest in those people she will call “old friend” one day. I pray she knows the importance of staying connected and forging a forever bond with those who truly matter. I pray she makes memories this final year with people she will hold in her heart forever. I pray that she nurtures relationships with her Day One’s. I pray she treasures those who have known her since “way back when” and who will know her from “way back when” when she is old like me. I pray she leaves high school with friends FOR life.
I pray she cherishes the people who will one day know her history.
New friendships are wonderful but old friends remind us of who we were and understand a part of you that you may have already forgotten. They are irreplaceable and have lasting impacts throughout our lives. They don’t need to do guessing, they just get you. They know and accept who you are.
Better yet, they like and appreciate who you are.
I love my Laverne. And I’m grateful to be her Shirley. Her forever friendship is golden–one of the best gift’s life has offered me. If there is one thing I know for sure, it’s that a lifelong friendship isn’t a big thing, it’s a million little things.