What comes to your mind when I mention friendship? That is something that has been on my mind a lot lately, and I can assure you it does not have anything to do with the number of “friends” you have on Facebook or Instagram. I guess it has been on my mind because I am living in a new place where I haven’t made any friends yet, and I am feeling kind of lonely. I have been thinking about all of the friends that I have had throughout my entire life. There are so many people that have touched me deeply over the years. (Warning: This post is going to be long and sappy! It is making me super emotional already while looking through old pictures. You should see the huge mess in my basement now!)
What does friendship mean to me? The actual definition of a friend according to dictionary.com is “a person attached to another by feelings of affection or personal regard; a person who gives assistance, support.” To me that is such a simple definition that doesn’t really cover the true meaning of friendship. Of course, I have those friends that I feel affection for and that support me and I support them. Those friends have been numerous over the years. However, my real BEST friends are so much more than that. It is hard to truly find the words to encompass what all of my best friends have meant to me. I have had friends that have been a part of each step of my life. There have been friends that come and go. There were friends that were so close to me that we were inseparable at the time, but that I haven’t talked to in years. There have been friends that were there, went a way for a while, and then came back around again. There were even friends that have hurt me, and I am sure there are those that I have hurt as well. A best friend is someone that I couldn’t imagine my life without. A best friend is someone who you know would be there for you in the drop of a hat and that you would do the same for even if you haven’t seen or talked to them in months or years. A best friend is someone that makes a difference in your life. I believe that God has placed each of these people in my life at just the right time and has allowed them to change me for good. Each of the people that I would consider a BEST friend have made me into the person that I am today. I have moved more than 8 times in my life, which has caused me to loose touch with many of the people that I would consider as best friends. Each move has brought with it new challenges in my life and the need for different friends. Each one has stepped in at just the right time. Meet the people that have changed my life.
My best friend all throughout elementary school and middle school (back then it was called junior high) was someone that at the time I thought would be the person that would be sitting in the rocker next to me in the nursing home when we were old and grey. We were inseparable. I have so many memories of being at her house swimming, redecorating her playhouse for the hundredth time, going to the beach together, playing Clue at my house, making the layout of a house out of pine straw in my front yard (no clue why), cheering at football and basketball games, experiencing our first boyfriends and our first heartaches together, and so many more amazing memories. I cannot picture my childhood without her in it. The summer before my freshman year of high school, my family had to move to another state. The thought of leaving behind my best friend was almost too much to bear at the time. At such a young age, I thought my life was over. We talked about how we would keep in touch and that I would only be an hour away so that we could visit each other whenever we wanted. That lasted for a little while. She did come visit once with a couple of our other close friends and we had the best time. Then life and high school and the distance got in the way and we stopped talking. Thinking about that now makes me very sad. It was no one’s fault that we lost touch. Yes, we both could have made more of an effort, but we were teens and it just happened. Eight years after we had lost touch, I got married. My new husband and I went to our reception after the wedding. I don’t remember what I was doing at the time, but at some point I turned around in the middle of the reception and she was standing there with one of my other really close friends. That moment is one that I will never forget and is actually bringing tears to my eyes right now as I type. Her being there at my wedding after not talking or seeing each other for all those years, meant more to me than she will ever know. I have not seen her since that day 18.5 years ago. We keep up with each other on Facebook, and I love seeing her children growing up, especially her oldest daughter who looks like the spitting image of her when we were kids. My prayer is that we will reconnect again one day and get to really reminisce about all of the years we spent together. She has changed me for good.
Beginning high school is hard enough for a young teen, but doing it in a new state in a new school with no friends, was excruciating. I can tell you now that it was one of those times that I would classify as one of the hardest of my life. Navigating new friendships was hard. There were some people that I thought were my friends that stabbed me in the back. There were those friends that I was so close to that we were together all the time and then circumstances caused them to fade from my life. I would say that throughout high school I had a lot of friends. I admit, I was one of the popular kids, but a lot of those friendships turned out to be superficial. However, there were a few that weren’t. When I first moved, I met one girl who became my best friend pretty quickly. We cheered together, played basketball together (got stuck on the JV team together and we rode the bench together), and we were silly together. For some reason, one memory that sticks out was watching the Little Mermaid together at her house. I don’t know if that was the first time I ever saw it or what or why two teenagers were watching a cartoon, but it’s a memory I have. LOL! Somehow, she met one of my close guy friends from before I moved and we bonded over that too. I remember that we used to write him letters from both of us and wait anxiously for the letters back that never came. I think maybe we talked to him on the phone one time too. I remember just laughing a lot with her and that “our song” was Mariah Carey’s song, “Hero.” I was just looking back at an old yearbook and she wrote in it, “Don’t forget that just like in the movie “Beaches” no matter what we’ll always keep in touch and one day will meet up again and we’ll share things that no one else can share and remember we’ll always be BEST FRIENDS!” Unfortunately, we have lost touch other than a few messages on Facebook, but I hope that one day we will meet up again and remember all those silly times just like she wrote. She has changed me for good.
This girl was my suitemate in college. She and her roommate used to make me so mad because they would always leave my side of the bathroom door locked so I could never get in the bathroom when I needed to! It drove me nuts! I used to leave them not so nice notes on their whiteboard about unlocking the door. I think I may have even taped a note to the door to remind them to unlock it when they were done. LOL! The things that we remember! She later became my sorority sister, roommate, and best friend. She is probably one of the sweetest people I have ever met and I love her dearly. I was a bridesmaid in her wedding and she had a very special role in my wedding with one of our Zeta traditions. She was my roommate during a very trying year at college and she never once complained about the craziness that was happening. She is my sister in Christ and introduced me to the Christian band Caedmon’s Call. Their songs will always remind me of her. She is another friend that I know would be there for me if I ever needed her. Though we haven’t seen each other in years, I know she is there. She has changed me for good.
These ladies also hold a special place in my heart from my college years. We were like the three musketeers but there were six of us. We weren’t always together and there were different dynamics between us with some closer together than others, but we were a group that was united. We were sorority sisters and somehow we came together. There are too many crazy memories to recall, including a trip to Charleston for spring break. Oh the memories! We were so close. We celebrated engagements, weddings, battled through heartaches, and shared so many nights talking together. I will be forever grateful for their friendship and the memories that I have of our time together. After we all graduated, we went our separate ways and lost touch. Facebook kind of brought us back together and we finally planned a trip to get together again. We went to a cabin in the mountains and I can tell you that it was like we had never been apart. I laughed so hard that weekend that my mouth and abs hurt so bad. That was 7 years ago and we haven’t seen each other all together again, but we did just start talking about planning another reunion and I couldn’t be more excited about the idea. They have changed me for good.
I began my married life away from home with a new husband in the military that deployed. I needed a friend in the worst way! Enter this girl! What can I say about her except that she was my lifesaver for those three years we lived there after we got married. Without her, I would have lost my mind every time my husband left. We began our marriages together. We began our teaching careers together. We even got our hair cut together (not sure what we were thinking sometimes, though). We were inseparable. I can’t even tell you the number of trips we made to Walmart or the local teacher store together or the amount of money we spent at both locations (that’s a secret). We would go shopping and buy the exact same outfits and then have to call each other in the mornings to make sure we weren’t wearing them at the same time! I became a part of her family, and her granny and papa became like my granny and papa. I was so glad that I could be there with her after her papa passed not too long ago. He was a very special man and I know she misses him incredibly. After I moved away, we kept in touch for a while and she came to visit us in Maryland and we took the worst tour of DC ever because it was 5,000 degrees outside. I visited her when I was pregnant and she came to visit after I had my oldest. Our youngest kids are exactly one month apart to the day. We used to say they were destined to get married one day. I was so happy when we moved back to Georgia years later and we were reunited. Our lives had changed us, and we were not as close and inseparable as we used to be, but I will always love her like a sister. She has changed me for good.
When we first moved to Virginia all those years ago, I didn’t know anyone. I had a 2 year old, and stressful job, and my husband was deploying for 6-7 months at a time. These two fellow Navy wives became my life support during those first years there. Their husbands were gone at the same time mine, and they had small kids too. I don’t know how I would have gotten through those first long deployments without them. We supported each other, built each other up, and were there when the other cried. They helped me raise my girls in those early years. When I went into labor with my youngest and my husband was deployed, one of them was at the hospital right away. She was one of the first people to see her besides my mom. Those first 3 months of my youngest daughter’s life without my husband were probably the hardest of my life. I was able to make it through because of these two ladies. I will be forever grateful to them and they will both always have a special place in my heart even though we don’t see or talk to each other much anymore as our lives have led us down different paths. They have changed me for good.
There are absolutely no words that can describe what these 8 women mean to me. We were united through teaching but our relationship grew into one of the most special friendships I have ever had. We have navigated through parenthood, children with medical conditions, the trials of teaching, the loss of parents, loss of friends, marriages, divorce, deployments, anxiety, births, miscarriages, heartbreak, and so many more monumental occasions TOGETHER. This group is made up of 9 very different personalities and beliefs, but somehow we compliment each other. Together we make each other better humans. We build each other up. We tell each other like it is even if it is hard. They are the first people that I go to when I have something good or bad to share. They are who I go to for advice. They are the people that I KNOW will be sitting in that rocker with me when we are old and grey. We have all gone our separate ways now and don’t get to see each other every day like we used to, but we make sure to connect weekly through Facebook and do our best to make our yearly beach trip where we let loose, act crazy, eat too much junk (chocolate chip cookies and lime flavored tortilla chips), get sunburned while I fuss at all of them about sunscreen, watch Lifetime movies (well some of us watch and some of us sleep), and laugh and cry together. They have definitely changed me for good.
Three and a half years ago, my family moved again. I was traveling an hour one way almost every day back and forth to Jacksonville, FL for my daughter to do gymnastics. It consumed my life. I would spend hours at that gym. Then we started traveling all over Florida and the rest of the country for gymnastics meets. I was by myself with both girls for most of it. Somehow along the way, God brought me these three, my fellow gym moms. Through the hours at the gym and traveling all over together, we became the best of friends. We have text strings among us that go on and on, and that is how we communicate 90% of the time. Together we have dealt with injuries, illnesses, mental blocks, gymnastics politics, and much more. They made the miserableness of living in South Georgia with my husband deployed half the time and my responsibilities as a Navy wife so much more bearable. I honestly think that we will continue our text strings for the rest of our lives, sharing our frustrations with our kids and husbands, our kids growing up, and the trials and tribulations of gymnastics and life in general. I wouldn’t want to travel with anyone else, and I don’t know how I am going to do that this year without them. They are truly special to me. They have changed me for good.
As you can see, I have had some pretty amazing BEST friends throughout my life. They all have had a part in making me who I am as they have each made a difference in my life. They are my tribe. Without my tribe, I am nothing. I am in a new phase of my life now, and I know there are new friends to come, but these women will forever be in my heart. I know most of them don’t even know that they have affected me in such a way, but I am truly blessed to know them all. I encourage you to think about all of the people that make up your tribe, those that you have lost touch with, those that are current, and those that are yet to come. Reflecting back on all of these people has given me a sense of hope for the future and the strength to face whatever life throws me next. This song from the musical, Wicked, perfectly sums up how these women have changed me.
“Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.”
Anchored in my tribe,