I have this amazing friend. We'll call her Rachel. Why? Because that's her name. She won't mind. I'm going to say all good things - but even if I wasn't, she'd laugh at me, shrug her shoulders and say, "Um - yeah, that sounds about right." Then she'd call me a name I won't repeat here.
I met Rachel when we were in the third grade. Which is nearly thirty years ago. Which is depressing and a whole other blog post on its own.
Anyway, that summer I moved to a new town. I lived in an apartment complex (my Dad still lives there). There weren't many kids around, and I was horrible at making friends anyway. But once school started, I did start meeting people.
One day, I noticed Rachel playing outside, so I called down to her. She asked if I could come out to play. I got outside, and she ran up to me and whispered, "I found a dead bird." Rachel was always a little...well, she's just Rachel.
Anyway, she didn't like the idea that the bird was just laying there so we decided to give it a funeral. And that's what we did - one cool Saturday in September 1983, I buried a bird and made a friend who would last a lifetime.
For a while, Rachel and I were inseparable. If you saw one of us, the other was not far behind. Her home became my second home, and her mom became the only real mom I've ever known. Over the years, we grew apart, and then back together. Once we got to high school, things really changed. Rachel made a lot of friends that didn't go to our school, and eventually she switched to another high school (it's a long story why this was possible; just suspend what you believe to be true about school districts). We really lost contact then.
Over the years, we never really kept in touch, but the village where we grew up (and she still lived) is small, so I knew what was going on in her life. She married, had kids, got a job doing what we always knew she'd do.
Eventually, Rachel and I got back in touch. We met one day for lunch - and talked for hours, as if no time had passed. We were both married, and looking to buy a house. Weird, how our lives were intersecting. We helped each other through those purchases, and hung out a little over the next year.
Then, we grew apart again. No real reason - life happens. But we kept in touch just enough that when things were bad for both of us, and we were recovering from some pretty tough times - we were there for each other. Again, just when we needed to be.
I thought of Rachel today. Her birthday is Friday and I am mailing (yes mailing) her a card. The card I chose for her talks about how some people are connected in life by an invisible thread; so even when they're apart, they're always together.
No matter where life takes us, Rachel and I always seem to find our way back to each other when the time is right. It's an amazing friendship, and a beautiful gift - and proof that you never really know how important someone will be in your life.