It was the summer of 2012. Summer drives under the shadows of great oaks. You marveling at palm trees because they don’t exist where you’re from. Homemade chocolate pancakes with strawberries. Late night car talks that lasted so long you would almost fall asleep, yet always pray for me before leaving. And errands. Lots of running errands.
You often ran errands with me because you knew spending time, even if it is doing errands, is how I feel loved.
As of late, I’ve realized, friendships aren’t gained or earned; friendships are bestowed unto us.
Five years have passed since you moved back East. Phone calls are slim to come by. Even texts have become rare. And I understand. I don’t expect us to keep up like we did.
You are working as a nurse like you dreamed of doing. You are newly married to your husband who you knew since you were fifteen.
I have one more year left of school to become a teacher. I am single and have no idea if marriage will even be a part of my future.
Maybe our friendship will become eyeing each other’s posts on social media with a smile, occasional heartfelt comments, ‘likes,’ and even ‘hearts’ for a little more emphasis on how we appreciate that post so much.
But I don’t want it to wane out like that.
I feared you wouldn’t remember the memories we shared as vividly as I did. I feared you valued other friendships more than ours. I feared being forgotten.
I realized if I expect something that is meant to be freely given as something to be earned and gained, it’s not free anymore.
This friendship was bestowed unto me.
Every word of affirmation. Every conflict resolved. Every moment shared.
With open hands I received; with open hands I hold it.
It is like a glass bottle with notes inside that washes up on the shores of my mind years later. It revisits me as dreams of our days past and as hopes for our days to come.
One day, we were running errands together and you were driving. You slow down at a red; my hands are on my lap and I am staring at the sidewalk.
You look at me, half sighing and say, “You have beautiful hands, Helen. Did you know that?”
Your hands are holding the steering wheel and your shoulders are lifted.
“There is so much to love about you.”
I slide my hands along the fabric seat and place them back on my lap. I steal a look at them. I can’t contain my smile.
“Aw, thanks. Really?”
You turn your head to the side, your brown curls showing.
“Yeah, I’m so excited for your future husband.”
On days I don’t feel beautiful, when no one has assured me otherwise, I take a long look at my hands and soak in that memory.
Updated and Revised on February 16, 2017
For more by Helen, explore the unraveling.