Will I know her when I see her? Will she recognize me?
These questions, and more, filled my mind as my plane touched the ground. I hurried through the terminal to the appropriate boarding gate. What if we feel awkward together? I wondered. What if we find we don’t even like each other?
Beginning in our ninth year, Karen and I had been inseparable. Nights spent at each others’ house; silently playing hangman’s noose together in church; passing into adolescence together; becoming young women. We were even married only eight days apart. And each time one of us had a baby, the other had one only a month or two later, until we had three children each.
Then she moved to another state and we had only the post office to link us. How glad we were when emailing made it possible to easily jot a line or two to one another.
Now we had a chance to attend the same women’s conference on the East Coast where I was to teach a workshop. We agreed to fly to a central city and travel the rest of the way together.
As I approached Gate Number Five I slowed my hurried pace. How will I know it’s her? How many years has it been? Twenty-five? Thirty? We’re both grandmothers now.
As a child I had marveled that my mother and grandmother often spoke of people from their childhoods. How can someone they see only once every few years be so important after all this time? I wondered.
One of Grandma’s childhood friends settled over a thousand miles away from their childhood homes in Denver. Yet throughout their long lives they sent letters, made occasional phone calls, and when possible traveled miles out of their way to see one another. Such good friends they were that they rejoiced together in happy times, cried with one another over sorrows, and prayed for one another’s children, then grandchildren, and finally great grandchildren – all of whom they each knew by name.
My eyes scanned the dozen or so people already at the gate. She’s not here yet, I thought as I reached the far side. Then it clicked. That one…in the middle. The… the matronly one. That’s her!
I turned around and looked at her closely. Her shape was different. Her hair was gray, no longer blond. But that profile… It is Karen! If she looks matronly, then so do I.
I approached her slowly, studying her face. I had to be sure. Soon we were in each other’s arms.
What a weekend we had together! We never ran out of things to talk about. We laughed about the bubble baths together at nine years old; at the memory of our afternoons, out of everyone’s sight on the roof of my family’s garage – where we could be away from listening ears. And we filled in one another on things that letters and emails simply could not convey.
Now I understood those friendships of my mother and grandmother. Now Karen and I had experienced the delicious joy of picking up right where we’d left off. I knew for myself that Grandma had been right when she said that although we’ll have only a few life-long friends, it’s worth learning God’s design for relationships and well worth nurturing them to keep them strong. “You never know which ones will last for years, or for the rest of your life,” she’d said.
I’ve learned first-hand that those friendships formed early in life hold a special place in one’s heart.
© Beverly Caruso