Today we attended the 60th birthday party of one of our dearest, long standing friends. I found myself thinking throughout the day about the nature of our relationship with this friend, and her husband, and took great pleasure in reliving some of the more poignant memories in our friendship over the years. Our children grew up together, with the closeness of siblings (and all that that brings, both good and bad), and although we had periods that seriously tested the integrity of our close relationship, I believe that the love and the esteem we share today has been made only that much stronger for the difficulties. At least I can say that for my part. For one thing, I have learned that loyalties in friendship do not necessarily mean parroting another’s point of view, or telling a loved one what you think they want to hear. Love can be the most beautiful and the most painful thing in the world, and though that sounds cliche- the truth of the fact cannot be disputed. I think of few other friendships that I would trust (outside of my husband’s), or indeed HAVE trusted with the knowledge of who I am deep inside. Nor do I feel such comfortableness with any but perhaps one or two other families. I remember Kerry saying to me once “I want us to grow old together”, and the feeling of warmth that exploded in my heart upon hearing those words. I remember when we went through hell with our older son, it was David and Kerry who stood by us at 2 am at the hospital emergency ward, ready to defend us to anyone who would dare question our competency as parents. It was David and Kerry that we always wanted to be with when we had joys to share, or time to just kick back and “be”. The love of the same God bound, and still binds us. We have shared so many powerful moments together, of triumph and tragedy, and have seen each other’s wounds and strengths. Nothing tests a relationship more than to see the other stripped of all pretense, vulnerable, weak, angry and lashing out- in the seconds before the decision to open arms in acceptance, with the embrace of forgiveness fully at the ready. That galvanizes the bonds of love- for it is easy to be around those who are pleasant, who agree with us, and who do not rock the boat. It is more challenging to be around those who hold up mirrors to us. Those who love us enough to challenge us to be our best selves. In those moments, it is easier to bolt, to run away from ourselves and thus remain frozen, constricted, and unable or unwilling to change. I bless God for David and Kerry- and for their daughters, whose love has been steady and unshakeable through all the time that we have known them. I thank them for not abandoning us when so many others did. In fact- I feel such an integral part of the warp and weave of our joint lives together, that to separate and tease out simple words to describe the indescribable would be to somehow diminish the fullness that I am feeling at this moment in my heart and soul. Gratitude. Profound and happy thanks to God for the day that we first met, and the journey since. Happy birthday Kerry- we will grow old together.