Some people measure wealth in dollars. I measure mine in friends—especially old friends who go back decades. I hang on to my friends and cherish our connections. Our friendships thrive because we put our hearts and energy into them.
I learned how to be a friend by watching my mother. At her 90th birthday party, three of her childhood friends came to celebrate with her. True, she’s lived in San Francisco her entire life and proximity certainly helps in maintaining friendships. But even distance can be bridged if friendship is one of your core values.
Last weekend, three of us friends who’ve known each other since elementary school, had a 3-night pajama party at Kristi’s house in Seattle. There were supposed to be four of us, but Marilyn got sick two days before our reunion and had to go to the ER. As a result, Marilyn was unable to join us.
After much angst and discussion, the three of us decided to go ahead with our reunion. Marilyn said she would feel worse if we all canceled. Sandy had never been to Seattle and she was excited to explore it. We talked non-stop on our flight.
Our quartet is woven from different strands. Sandy and I go back a long way. Our mothers were sorority sisters and pregnant at the same time. But Sandy lived “across the park” so we didn’t see each other that often when we were growing up.
Marilyn and I met in Mrs. Biggs’ first grade class and our lives have been entwined ever since. Kristi transferred to our elementary school in the fifth grade and we formed a triangle that sometimes caused school girl rivalries. Sandy made it a new trio in high school when she met Kristi and Marilyn went to a different high school.
Our connections have ebbed and flowed over the years until a decade ago. We decided to have annual visits to celebrate our birthdays. We celebrated our sixty years of friendship in 2011 in San Francisco. Kristi has always been the one to come down to visit the three of us. But this time, we headed to Seattle for our first reunion on her turf.
Our Seattle visit was the best thing we could have done for ourselves. Even though we felt a huge void without Marilyn, we felt a sweeter joy in celebrating, knowing how precious and unpredictable life is. When we greeted each other, we hugged a little longer and savored each moment more consciously in grateful appreciation.
The three of us shared memories from elementary school and high school. Kristi put some flowers on the table in a crystal vase that Sandy’s mother gave her. We shopped at Pike’s Place market for our dinner and then cooked together. Kristi introduced us to her walking group who led us on a trek up some of Seattle’s steepest hills. We swapped lots of photos of our children and grandchildren. We reminisced about our parents and shared some of the challenges we now face with our aging parents.
Our conversations felt leisurely as we luxuriated in our full days together. When it was time to say goodbye, we all agreed that our time together had allowed us to slow down and truly reconnect. We all felt a little richer and learned an important lesson: Life doesn’t always go according to plan, so grab the time with friends while you can. It’s too precious to postpone.