Forever friends

Friendships don’t just happen. Lucky and rare are the friendships that can happen in an instance, where two minds can

 think alike and never have any disagreements.

I share a friendship with someone that has lasted almost 40 years. It started easy enough but has been a challenge to maintain. Not because of disagreements, but mostly because we have taken different paths.  I had children right out of high school; she chose to own a business and had her family later.  I have grandchildren and she is raising pre-teens.  But no matter what, we manage to meet when we can, to catch each other up on our hectic lives, to share those precious memories that we fondly keep in our hearts. Though the get-togethers are too far in-between, birthday and holiday cards are sent, just a reminder that we still care.

I met Lori half-way through fourth grade, after I moved to a new school district, I was shy and kept to myself.  Lori  came over and start talking to me. She told me that she lived a block from the school.  She had two older brothers who had their own families, so it was almost like she was the only child.  She parents were older and she had a dog named Pierre.

I was happy to have made a new friend.  Unfortunately, her best friend didn’t like it and gathered a bunch of girls to intimidate me after school.   Lori, not wanting to hurt her friend’s feelings, was right there beside her.  What could I do? I felt terrible that I had somehow found myself in the middle of something I wanted no part of. So I ran home, vowing not to return to school the next day.

But, of course, I did.  I avoided all the girls for a few days and things settled down.  I could never understand it, but kids will do silly things, that don’t seem to make sense.

One day Lori asked me if I wanted to go to her house after school.  I was a little scared and I told that I didn’t want to make her friend (also named Cindy) mad. She said she didn’t care and I guess I didn’t either.

I loved Lori’s house. They had a living room that they only used for company.  They had a piano and a stereo, which she played a lot.  Lori was of Syrian/Lebanese heritage and her father, George, had the distinct characteristics.  He was short and had olive skin, like Lori did. Her mother, Marge, always wore her hair the same, in a bouffant style, and I remember that she was always so nice when I came over.  She always had the radio playing in the kitchen and played Bunko with her friends.

Lori’s room was one that I wished I had.  Not only was it her own, but she had so many clothes and shoes and pretty pillows on her bed.  I had to share a room with two sisters and hand-me-downs.

Every morning I stopped by Lori’s house and we would walk the block to school.  If I got there early, she would put on the Carpenters and we’d sing the songs together.

That year Buchanan School closed and Lori and I went to different schools and lost touch. However, we met up again when we both went to McKinley Junior High.  We just picked up where we left off.

Lori was fun, she was exciting, she was the leader and I just went along with whatever crazy ideas she came up with. It was always an adventure when I was with her.  We were there for each other and when I was feeling sad, I could count on her to bring me up, to forget about my life for a while and just have fun.

After graduation, Lori went to Capri College to become a hair stylist, something we all knew she was destined for.  She tried to talk me into going with her but I got married instead. Lori wanted to go into business for herself and opened a hair salon called Floyd’s, Beauty and the Barber.  I was so happy for her but I knew that we were moving further apart.

Through the years we have kept in touch.  Not only is she my oldest daughter’s godmother, but my youngest daughter is named after her.

The last time we met for lunch, I knew that we didn’t have much in common anymore, but it was still really good to see her and talk about where we were in life.

Lori’s dad recently passed away; her mother died a couple of years ago. As I entered the chapel of the funeral home, the memories of our childhood came back in one crazy blur. But under that, there was a feeling that belonged only to Lori, a feeling that this was my one true friend, my forever friend. It didn’t matter how much time had passed, only that I was there then.

I realized that the reason I kept sending cards and staying in touch was because I didn’t want to let go of that. This kind of friendship happens once in a lifetime, if you’re lucky to find it at all.  Now I know what people mean when they say, “You are my best friend.” It means that no matter what happens, where our lives may lead us, we will always be there, no matter what. It’s a vow that we won’t let go.

Lori and I may never be the kind of friends who hang out together, go shopping, or even talk on the phone.  But I know she’s there, and she knows I’m here. And we always will be.

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