When my mom came in October I asked her if she had any cute ideas for a friend’s 40th birthday.
Does she like jewelry?
How about a book?
She doesn’t like to read. Also, she’s a very picky eater. She lives clear across the country. And she doesn’t like to shop, either.
Hmmm, my mom said. That’s a tough one.
It’s not that I’ve waited until the last minute. Almost a year ago I emailed her husband and we secretly planned this amazing surprise trip. But an equally surprise pregnancy nipped that right in the bud.
And then came Thanksgiving and the rush to make Christmas headway before I travel this week. Oh, and then strep–just when I least expected it. Now here it is, December 4th. Her big, milestone day. And me, with nothing in the mail.
A few years ago, my friend Heather wrote me a blog birthday post. I remember how special it was to me. Easily one of the very best gifts. And so…a little tribute for what it’s worth, for one of my dearest friends, Kelly.
We weren’t supposed to meet. We weren’t in the same class in school, in fact we grew up on opposite coasts. Five years separate us in age. We never worked together or had mutual friends or similar hobbies. With all that stacked up against us, I consider it clandestine, the fact that our paths ever crossed.
Both new to Tucson–both newlyweds–we would each drop our respective husbands off at the airport on November 14th, 2004, each of us totally oblivious to the other. Off to war our husbands would go, not part of a deploying unit, but each of them headed off as individual augmentees in a raging war. That bit about not being part of a deploying unit is key. Had they been part of a unit, chances are, Kelly and I would have at least known of each other. But no. We said our sad goodbyes and went home without the luxury of a friend to lean on.
Our husbands, meanwhile (Jeff and Geoff, ironically), would eventually meet up somewhere between El Paso, Texas and Baghdad, Iraq. They would get to talking and come to realize some eery similarities and then one day, my Jeff would give her Geoff our home phone number.
I’ve never been terribly outgoing. So when first Kelly called it was admittedly a little weird for me. But throughout our conversation I felt the tension slip quietly to the wayside as our stories unfolded. As bit by bit we found common ground. There would follow a blind friend date, and a number of lengthy conversations over the phone lines. It was like the BFF version of e-harmony. And it worked for us.
That was a long time ago. A lot has changed. Between us, we’ve bought and sold houses, had babies, moved across the country. Distance is a great divide between us these days, but still our friendship remains.
Kelly and I are practically polar opposites. I’m a total foodie, whereas she is picky as can be. She’s laidback and easygoing but I’m wound coil-tight. She’s quiet and soft-spoken. I’m quiet, too, unless you cross me. She’s accepting and understanding and by-the-book. I strive to be. When we talk, I know she’s listening. And that she cares. She asks questions about things that matter to me, and I know she’s vested in my answers. She’s thoughtful and deliberate in letting me know she’s thinking of me. She is everything a friend should be–but rarely is. She is absolutely a gift in my life, one of those rare gems that God hides in a spot where you’d never have thought to look. I just love her to pieces. And I miss her–all of them–so very much.
I hope that this milestone year delivers day after day of blessings, my friend: casseroles you don’t have to pick through, big bear hugs from your boys, a few quiet moments to sip something red. Happy birthday. May everything prior pale in comparison to your forties. XO