9 years ago, today I sat beside my mom and across the table from my oldest friend who was sitting beside her mom. I know it was 9 years ago because I have the pictures from that day. Looking at the pictures of that day none of us could have known what was coming. Looking at the picture, of my oldest friend who is my chosen sister now and I, is particularly interesting given everything that has happened to both of us. Looking at our smiling faces, after laughter, I cannot help but think, we thought we were grown-ups then? Those girls had no clue. At the time we were both keenly aware life can get challenging in a split second because it had. But we had not seen difficulty yet. Not even close.
Profound grief, almost impossible to process, and challenges that feel like climbing a never-ending wall awaited us. In all those circumstances lessons to learn. I remember getting a text from her late last year that knocked the breath out of my lungs for a minute it was so unexpected. I had not heard from her in a while and my attempts to reach out had been rare because my life was upside down too. I immediately picked up my phone and started a conversation with her. I am sorry I have not reached out. I am here and I love you. I could not think of anything else to say that seemed sufficient and not empty platitudes. Then she asked how I was. Shaking my head slightly I told her. She said wow. I knew exactly why she was saying wow. Our situations were remarkably similar in a lot of ways right then.
We talked through it for a while promising to stay connected better no matter how busy life got. We have kept that promise. It is not every week and certainly not every day, but we know the other is there for whatever. My immediate family and I still have plenty of difficulties to walk through, but knowing she is just a call or text away and understanding when things feel chaotic at best is such a comfort. Nine years later, we are still here chosen sisters and friends loving each other through it all. Just with more stories to tell and lessons to impart to anyone who asks about getting through life well.
My takeaway if anyone asked would be to make sure to nurture your oldest relationships because those people are who get you through when life gets beyond scary. They will sit and pray with you. Listening to you cry is not an imposition for them. When you tell them you have no answers, they know, and they whisper in solidarity with that fact. What do we do now is a question they are willing to answer for you. Their answer: we get through this together no matter how difficult it is. We get through it together loving each other and supporting each other all the while. When there seems to be no answer that is the answer: going through every step of life together.