Friendship Anniversary

At first, I struggled with this post.  I didn’t have any idea what I was going to write about.  And then, yesterday, I celebrated a 13-year friendship with a remarkable woman.  The Tigger to my Pooh…
My best friend and I have been friends since senior year in high school.  She was the new girl (as she often was since her mother was military), and she was in four of my seven classes.  It started feeling like she was following me around because I saw the girl everywhere.  So after a few weeks of this, I finally decided to approach her.  I wasn’t at all diplomatic about it (smile), and surprisingly, she was receptive to my forward confrontation.  We’ve been friends since that day, October 11, 1998, and neither of us has forgotten it.

Now, I know it sounds odd to celebrate a “friendship anniversary”, and we may be one of the few people on the planet who do it, but there’s a method to the madness.  You see, she and I had an amazing senior year together, and there were some incredible memories generated in that small amount of time.  But, when graduation and senior week were over, and all the graduation parties had either been crashed by unsuspecting parents or broken up by bored night cops, it was time to say goodbye.  My besti has been in the military since the year we graduated; I see her one week a year, usually around New Year’s–until the war started, and she found herself headed overseas every 14-18 months.

This last separation from her has felt the longest because both incredibly wonderful and horrible things have happened to me in the last year’s time.  I’ve struggled with the inability to reach her in moments of great distress or happiness, and harbored animosity with the U.S. government for taking her from me, especially when I needed her most.  The majority of her duty stations have been 3000 miles away, and when she’s deployed, the distance is horrifically longer–communication is almost non-existent.  She missed the birth of my son; I missed her college graduation.  It feels like we’re light years apart.
And then there’s these incredible moments where we’ll get an unexpected care package from each other: I’ll send a Christmas deployment package; she’ll send me Valentine’s Day cupcakes special delivery.  It’s these endearing moments that carry us to the next time we see each other, and I remember why she’s my besti–because she’s thinking of me no matter where she is, and I am always thinking of her.
We don’t celebrate our “anniversary” just because it’s something cheesy to do; we celebrate it because we recognize that every moment of our time on this earth together is precious.  Any deployment could result in a Marine knocking on my door with his hat in his hand and a somber grimace on his face.  I know while I’m sleeping, she’s watching the borders for me and the millions of others in this country who take our freedom and our liberties for granted.  And when I start feeling embittered about our separation, I remember the sacrifice she’s making and instead try to be grateful that she is one of few who was willing to take the risk.  She has re-enlisted two or three times since the war began when she could have taken herself out of harm’s way.  Instead she chose to remain in service, and that courage and conviction reinforces our friendship every day.

Thank every veteran or serviceman you see.  You never know the sacrifice their families and friends endure at the expense of your freedom.  So happy 13th anniversary, Besti!  And may God grant us many more.

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