by Madeline Laughs
Growing up I feel I was given the most precious gift of all. I was given good friends. The people I was privileged to spend my most formative years with are a hearty, loving bunch of folks. They are people that I can fall completely back into a synchronized step with after not seeing them for 18 years. They are my rock and my foundation. I draw on my past with them even when I am halfway around the world and feeling fearful. I can pull up a memory of a conversation, or a birthday gift and they are with me as if they had never been very far away at all. I don’t know if this is something everyone has, but this past year has made me more aware of their strength and their love than I have ever been before.
My friends never shunned a newcomer. They welcomed everyone with open arms and always had a healthy curiosity and desire to get to know them better. They taught me how to be a good friend and they showed me how to open myself to the possibility of widening my circle beyond what was allowed. I can thank them for my natural warmth when I meet new friends, for I see everyone as a potential friend and possess none of the suspicion or paranoia that comes from being hurt.
In our group there was never judgement or hierarchy. Everyone had the same chances. Even today friends are forgiven and allowed to continue in the same patterns without the anxiety of disappointing the others. Everyone already knows the deal and it is what it is. We all move through life in mysterious ways, but coming home will always feel the same to us. There will be the hugs and slaps on the back and the wonder at what everyone has been up to. There will be smiles and laughter and welcoming invitations because we are after all…friends.
Life for me has been enchanted because of the people that raised me. They gave me the tools to seek out what I needed in order to always have “home” close by. The man that came into my life and swept me away in love carries small pieces of each of my childhood friends. I can see them when he smiles and when he cries. He is home to me just as they were always who I ran back to whenever I felt unsure of who I was or where I might belong. How wonderful it has always been to have a place to belong to with people to remind me of everything that is good.
I can’t imagine my life without them, even though I have lived a large portion of it with them just on the periphery. They have always been deep in my heart no matter where I was or who I was with for they have always been irreplaceable.
I recently went home to see most of our group. There have been changes in their lives, heartaches too deep to cross over, joys too high to topple and the comfort of waking each morning and knowing right where you are. Sparkly eyes and real hugs and every tear saved for later when I was alone and could miss them once again like I always do when my visit ends. The feeling that I had never left was always in my pocket with each renewed connection. To see them, to sit close, to listen and soak up as much as I could in the time I had there was my only wish.
If you are fortunate enough to have friends like mine in your life, make sure you take a moment to appreciate them. Friends are not a given in anyone’s life. They will stand by you when no one else will, catch you when you fall and forgive you when you are at your worst. They will celebrate your triumphs and be there for your happiest memories. They are the standing ovation you receive as you take a bow on the stage of life. They are the roses at your feet and the crown on your head.
Friends are what make life worthy and filled with daily adventures. Yes, they are all of that and so much more that I have yet to experience.
Where would I be without mine?