Some friendships are planted so deep in your heart that they actually sprout up and provide a canopy of protection from the harsh elements of the world around you. The kind that have downreaching roots that spread wide until they become a part of your foundation, holding you firmly to the earth while burgeoning sturdy branches lift you high to be warmed in the sunlight and refreshed in the breeze. I’ve been blessed to know that kind of friendship for 15 years. Enough time that the roots are mature, the branches tall and secure and the flowers are fragrant and plentiful.
The memories ignite whenever I get a whiff of jasmine and vanilla or fresh baking bread, those Tuesday mornings as a new mom at my friend’s house under the guise of a play date for the kids, sharing coffee and stories and hopes and laughs were truly, albeit cliche, some of the best times in my life. Those times were among the best because the gifts she offered me were more than home baked treats and spa-worthy hand soap, but rather she fed me encouragement that kept me going through the hard weeks and sent me home with the lingering scent of hospitality on my hands that made me feel valued and loved.
Soon the volume of kids doubled and the play dates got more practical with “field trips” to the grocery store and exercising the kids at the park. We shared stories from our weeks and celebrated the milestones of our kids. We talked freely about our work, parenting, politics, religion, food, and even God with no pretense or restriction. Time with my friend was comfortable and inspiring. Though younger, she’s always been years beyond me in wisdom and faith. Her authentic and unassuming gift of opening her home and heart makes it easy to admire her seeming aptitude for absolutely everything required for “doing life” well and not get caught up in envy. I realized early on that with the small exception of my superior taste in entertainment and vacation destinations 😉, there was not a place I could offer her more than she offered me. It was, and remains, a privilege to just spend time with her and soak up some of the extra inspiration she exudes.
The memories are many and my sentimentality runs high. I could expound on each passing year, each season bringing subtle change, unique beauty and like a well planted tree, new growth. I could write a thousand words about how much my entire family loves hers entirely. I could fill a book with chapters about our kids’ antics together. I could muster up a hundred amusing antecdotes that we shared as couples that involve everything from ghost writing to Christopher Walken and if I had all of the corks from the wines we’ve shared over the years I could build a stylish tiny house! It’s been good.
My friend is moving away and I’m selfishly sad. Yet, I know she’s leaving me better than she found me. I knew this day would come but chose not to dwell on it because it felt a little like the death of something. It felt as if the beautiful tree I’d come to rest under throughout a season of my life was being uprooted and all I’d be left with was a hole that would always remain a badly patched dip in the yard, constantly reminding me of something beautiful gone. But I know that’s not true. I know that the tree will continue to flourish and that the roots are deep and the branches strong enough to sustain our friendship across distance and time.
The season of change is here and I celebrate this new chapter in my friend’s life. We were blessed to have shared some wonderful moments and the tears that well up when I think on those sweet days gone by and imagine what this new season on the horizon will look like are not from sadness, but rather pure joy that runs out of my eyes because I am so full with thankfulness for having experienced that kind of deeply rooted love in a friendship.