suffering through enjoying a snow day with my children, when my phone chanced to ring. It was a dear friend, who lives far enough away, that she was surprised to hear about my snow. They were having rain. Later I hung up the phone, and Baby Boy remarked that I had been on the phone for A LONG TIME. Yeah so. And it was a long time, but not nearly as long as we've talked before. I couldn't begin to number the hours we have whiled away typing emails, chatting on the phone, talking in person, deep into the night. We haven't known one another since we were girls, but it seems as though we should have. Memories of childhood birthdays and slumber parties seem built in. The fact that we grew up in different states and graduated ten years apart makes no difference.
Last year, when I went to Orlando, I wasn't sure why I was going. Of course now I know how incredibly important my Orlando gals are to me, and how they enrich my life. I guess I could say, I didn't know what I was missing. But so many of them (both last year, and this year too) were doing this thing solo. They felt so alone, isolated, craving one other person to reach out to that would understand their unconventional life. Part of going to Orlando for me I realized, was to understand how good I had it. I already had that one person, and they had me. And even more amazing, we had a history that went back farther than adoption. We had begun our adoption journeys at roughly the same time, taking different yet similar paths. Still we knew one another before, and now in the midst, and someday we plan to be old ladies together...no children allowed.
For many years we had been friends turned to sisters. Our children were born, one after the other, and grew together like cousins. Our husbands were friends, often brother-like, snoozing on opposite ends of a couch, like mirror images. We moved, they moved, we moved again. Sometimes we have lived close together, now spread apart. Nine or ten years ago we began our adoption journey. Had they not begun theirs as well, no doubt ours would be a tale of yet another close friendship lost, as lives diverged and drifted apart. I have always been grateful for this, not fully comprehending the miraculousness of it. My Orlando girls helped me to see it for the treasure it is. Such is true friendship. C.S. Lewis describes this in his book "The Four Loves", and I would not presume to try and say it better.
One knows nobody so well as one's "fellow." Every step of the common journey tests his metal; and the tests are tests we fully understand because we are undergoing them ourselves. Hence, as he rings true time after time, our reliance, our respect, and our admiration blossom into an Appreciative love of a singularly robust and well-informed kind. If, at the outset, we had attended more to him and less to the thing which our Friendship is "about," we should not have come to know or love him so well. You will not find the warrior, the poet, the philosopher or the Christian by staring in his eyes as if he were your mistress: better fight beside him, read with him, argue with him, pray with him.
In a perfect friendship this Appreciative love is, I think, often so great and so firmly based that each member feels, in his secret heart, humbled before all the rest. Sometimes he wonders what he is doing there among his betters. He is lucky beyond desert to be in such company. Especially when the whole group is together, each bringing out that is best, wisest, or funniest in all the others....Life, natural life, has no better gift to give. Who could have deserved it?