MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT FRIENDS
Friendship Part 1
(When this blog ran a year and a half ago it drew many emails and comments. It seemed to be a common thread among hearts. Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section at the end. Friendship Part 2 is below it.)
It was a dark and stormy night. It really was. Not just a cheesy beginning to pulp fiction but our real life.
Our younger daughter, Katy, taught at a Christian school, her own alma mater, in NC. Well, not the last few days. A bad flu bug held her hostage, alone in her apartment, trying to feel better. Without Mama and chicken soup, however, her fever crept up.
Then the weatherman announced, "...big snow storm coming...stock up on supplies...power failures expected..."
That storm was roaring towards my baby, due to hit in four hours. These were Katy's post-college and pre-marriage years. She lived three hours away from us. Now anyone who knows me realizes I'm not an overly protective mother. At times I was probably better at giving them wings than roots. Their independence was my goal and I'd worked myself out of a job. (Doug and I actually love the empty nest but don't tell the kids. They think we miss them!)
But this night was different. She was very sick. Quite alone. This was a big storm and she had no supplies stocked up. Neither she nor her medicine was working!
I picked up the phone, dialed from memory a Greenville number, and heard the familiar voice, "Hello?"
"Phyllis! I'm so glad I reached you." I told her the scenario. Within moments she and Bobby went to Katy's, packed a few belongings for her, bundled her in a blanket and headed for I-95 S to meet me. My baby needed Mama and home.
In sync I grabbed a heavy coat and Doug excused me from choir practice with his blessings and prayers. I headed up I-95 N, to meet them at Cracker Barrel in Smithfield. Time was crucial to beat this storm. Rescuing her by myself before the storm hit was impossible. But friends meeting me halfway cut that travel time to one and a half hours. If our timing went perfectly, we should all be safely home in three hours, one hour before the storm.
By 8:00 PM Katy slept in my back seat heading toward SC and chicken soup. We had smoothly passed the baton (Katy) and finished the marathon just ahead of the storm.
Do you have a friend you'd call in the middle of the night? I call without hesitation and mine come without hesitation.
That was not the only time I've called on our dear friends during storms of life. They come. They love. Regardless. They're selfless. And they know I'd do the same for them.
I say I married the best man at our wedding and Doug smiles humbly. Actually, Bobby filled the role as our best man. After the ceremony we all stood way too long in the receiving line, achy smiles pasted in place. Doug slipped aside to take a break, sitting on a nearby piano bench. Not realizing his absence, I turned to introduce a relative to my new husband, "This is Doug." But there stood Bobby, grinning.
He stood UP at the wedding.
He stood IN at the reception.
They've stood BY us for 45 years!
Phyllis and Bobby (our college years)
Bobby at our wedding and our receiving line
Doug takes a break
Recently I heard that women need 6 types of friends:
6. Your partner's friend
While I have most on that list, some rolled into one, I'd add that we need one more type friend, a middle-of-the-night friend. A stormy weather friend.
I've thought about what it took in life to have a Phyllis. I can only share what glues us together:
* a shared history
* honesty, being real, transparent (about our good and bad stuff)
* tears and laughter
* a deep spiritual connection
* respect for similar values
* loving and liking each other
* a willingness to give to each other, even when inconvenient or unscheduled
* nurturing our time together, valuing it, not rushing through, but savoring it (Phyllis and I still set aside 1-3 hours a week just to catch up. By the way HAPPY BIRTHDAY, Phyl!)
Your list may be different but that's mine. As I read it, I think it fits other women God's placed in my life like Jan Banks and Trudy Miles. I could tell similar stories of shared memories with them--like climbing into a tornado shelter or up into a church belfry, tears of joy over the surprise announcement of a pregnancy, get-aways to Mayberry RDF (Mt. Airy) or bed and breakfasts. But those are other blogs. Life shared with friends.
My new friends, younger friends, workout friends are wonderful and important in my life too. I couldn't handle five days a week at Curves without them! One is also a writer for a local newspaper and she encourages my writing. Thanks, Kaye.
But my cherished friends are my middle-of-the-night ones.
Life bombards us with bad news--economic crises, financial failure, job losses, foreclosures, war, earthquakes, Conan and Leno feuding! But friends remain. Real friends. True friends. Invest in them. Invest your time, energy, love, trust and respect.
"Love is patient, love is kind, love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres...
Love never fails...
And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is LOVE."
I Cor. 13: 4-8, 13.
I love this passage from The Message too:
"Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back, but keeps going to the end.
But for right now, until that completeness, we have three things to do to lead us toward that consummation: trust steadily in God, hope unswervingly, love extravagantly. And the best of the three is love.
Our plans may be interrupted by storms, but God's never are. He makes available both His love and the love of friends. They help us weather those dark and stormy nights of life.
Windblown but still sailing,