“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” — C.S. Lewis
When I opened my mailbox last week, I discovered something quite unexpected. It was a graduation announcement for the daughter of my very best friend in the whole wide world.
A girl’s whose entrance into this world made me miss the first day of my second semester of college; whose diapers I changed and of whose face I took countless photos — this precious thing that was once so small and helpless.
I was staggered by the notion that this little girl — because she will always be a little girl to me — was all grown up and ready to conquer the world.
Where, oh where, did the time go?
I immediately texted her mama, aglow with pride and all the squishy feelings one has when a moment in time is both bitter and sweet. And I just couldn’t help but remember myself at her age, and how the friendship with her mother has shaped the ins and outs of my life.
When I first met Brandon Durst (now Willard), she didn’t much like me. As the new kid at school, I had inadvertently stolen the affection of her sixth-grade beau — Nick Secoy — and for that sin I was instantly disliked.
But as the luster of the limelight faded, Nick soon turned his attention elsewhere and somehow Brandon put aside her pre-teen angst, and before I knew it, we were the best of friends. I think we bonded over the fact that our mamas had respectively decided to bestow on us names that were more commonly suited for the lesser of the sexes.
We’ve been friends for more than a quarter century (gosh, doesn’t that make us sound so old?) and we’ve seen our fair share of the good and the bad that life has to offer. We’ve faced heartache and death and the joy of new life — and all the little things in between. And somehow, over the years, and despite the physical distance between us, we’ve managed to cling to the core of who we were all those many years ago.
Sure, life gets in the way sometimes. We’ll go months without talking, but as soon as one of us picks up the phone to call, it’s like we’re 16 again and riding the dirt roads of the Mississippi Delta.
And although the days of sneaking out of the house to meet boys or taking ill-advised rides in the back of pickups are long gone, we still manage to rescue each other at exactly the right moment.
And now, her sweet baby girl is graduating high school. To use a phrase that is far too young for me — I’ve got all the feels.
And as any good aunt should, I’ll now dispense with some sage advice for the fledgling adult who I’ve affectionately called Anna Banana for every single day of her life.
To my dearest Anna Claire —
Have fun. I know that seems such a cliché piece of advice, but I can’t emphasize it enough. Take joy in the things you are doing, the experiences you are encountering. Life won’t always be as forgiving as it is when you are 18.
Put yourself first. There is rarely another time in life where you can focus solely on what you want and who you want to be. Be (a little) selfish. Be adventurous. Be merry and bright.
Pick your roommate wisely. I’m going to give it to you straight — there are some crazy people out there. I once had a roommate who only ate microwaved popcorn and Red Bull. It was not a good year.
If you think you can sneak underage into a bar and have a few drinks undetected — you can’t. Take it from someone who learned the hard way.
Finally — and most importantly — never be afraid to call your mama, no matter the situation.
Here’s the thing — you are going to mess up, and that’s OK! Messing up is a cornerstone of living. But the most important thing to remember is that your mama will always pick up the phone when you call. There is never a moment that she is not thinking of you, praying for you, hoping for you.
That’s a powerful kind of love and only the lucky can count themselves among her favor.
Take it from me, kid. She loved me first.