Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Best Friends Forever

Some friendships just keep going. Those are the ones you treasure--with the girlfriend who shared ninth grade, and endured the laughable honors teacher; who went to the same college with you, and then settled down to raise her family on your same street.

I have a friend like that. We went to Hamilton High School in Los Angeles. We went on to UCLA, though we weren't terribly close during those years. In fact, though she was living within three miles of me, we really didn't reconnect until we found ourselves in the same close-knit Jewish community, she with a newborn, me about to wed. Turned out she raised her five kids just one door away. My son was born just a year after her youngest child, a daughter--on the same day.

It's truly a blessing to have a long-term friendship that transcends just about everything. Though I moved to the Northwest a decade ago, we still speak every week, and we sign our emails "BFF." Despite the fact that our children keep growing--even out of the house to college--we two feel like we're still in Hami High.

Well, unfortunately, my dear friend recently endured one of life's traumas. Her cousin, our age, just died of cancer. It's one thing when a classmate gets in an auto accident when you're young--it's a shock, but it's a fluke. When your parents die, even if they're elderly, you suffer, because they're supposed to be your protection from the world; they're the source of your security. My friend and I endured those passages together.

Now, losing her cousin is getting just a little too real, too close. News of my friend's loss came at the same time I heard that my across-the-street neighbor, a young father, was killed in a motorcycle crash.

Memories of my earliest days with my friend are obscured in shadow. Kids then didn't have digital cameras or cell-phones that took images in megapixels. The only photos we had were from important occasions or holidays, when our dads took a roll of 24 or 36 shots that were expensive to develop. I had a camera with a little film cassette that you dropped in the back, but I didn't think to use it most of the time. Who had money for such things?

Now, however, we email each other visual updates of our kids, and when she comes up to visit, I snap moments onto my 2-gig card with abandon. Having photos actually makes images permanent, and brings me back into the original scene. Most every memory makes me smile. As my BFF goes through this tough transition, I feel for her--but look forward to weaving lots more happy times into this colorful life tapestry we share.

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