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Sharon Randall: The gift of a special friend

By Sharon Randall

What do you call it? That moment when someone walks into your life, opens a door in your heart, puts their feet up on your coffee table and makes themselves at home? When you realize that the stranger you just met is going to be a part of you forever? There ought to be a name for that.
I remember such a moment with my friend Donna. I was eight months’ pregnant, sitting in church with my husband on a foggy Sunday morning waiting for the service to begin.
I don’t know why we were early that day. Usually, we were late. The pastor welcomed the congregation and instructed us to greet one another.
So I struggled to my feet. (It was my third pregnancy. I had the size, agility and disposition of a pregnant elephant seal caught on the rocks at low tide.) Then I turned to the pew behind me and looked into the smiling blue eyes of a woman who was almost as pregnant as I was. And that was it — we were friends.
How does that happen? What kindles the spark between two kindred souls?
In our case, it was probably our unique sense of humor. We both liked to laugh, and laughed at the same strange things.
We couldn’t have known that at the start, of course. There wasn’t much to laugh about in the sermon. But at one point, I snickered at something the pastor said, and when I heard Donna snicker, too, I looked over my shoulder and gave her a big knowing grin.
It’s a comfort to know you’re not the only soul in the entire congregation who thinks something is funny.
In time, we would find that we also cried at the same things, but that would come later.
We were both in our 20s, young wives and mothers with picture-perfect lives looming before us, husbands we loved, children we adored, scrapbooks of dreams waiting to be filled.
We had no idea, not one clue, of all that lay in store.
That was more than 30 years ago. Our babies grew up and we grew with them. Our hips grew wider and our roots got grayer and life was not quite as picture-perfect as we had dreamed it would be. But somehow we kept laughing. And through it all, we were friends.
We talked. We listened. We laughed. We cried. We drank a lot of iced tea. We shared each other’s joys and bore each other’s burdens. That is what friends are for.
Our marriages ended within a year of each other’s. I was widowed; she was divorced. Then she moved away and it became harder to keep in touch.
Some people are good about staying connected. I am not one of those people. Lucky for me, Donna was. And she still is.
Every year she sends me a Christmas card with pictures of her children and grandchildren. And on my birthday, she calls without fail. If I don’t answer, she leaves a message. Sooner or later I call her back and we will talk for an hour.
This time it was one hour and 19 minutes before my phone’s battery started chirping.
I hate it when it does that.
It wasn’t nearly long enough, but we did a fair job of covering the bases — our new lives, new husbands, new homes, our children and grandchildren.
Mostly, we just laughed. We ended it, as we always do, with a promise to try to get together before yet another year goes by.
I hope we will. If not, I know she will call me on my birthday.
When you share so much history with someone — when you know things about each other that no one else knows — you pick up exactly where you left off, as if you’d never spent a day apart, let alone a year.
What do you call that moment when someone walks into your life and never lets you go?
I call it a gift.
• • •
Contact Sharon Randall at www.sharonrandall.com.

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