Earlier this week I got lunch with my friend Katie and her son Landon. We chatted about life and God in segments, interrupted by the laughter of loveliness of our children playing together. I always smile and love to watch Riley play with other kids. But there’s something more when I watch her play with Landon. Watching Riley have a play date with Landon is crazy, because Katie and I were once children that had play dates together. It is an amazing thing to see your child with the child of your best friend of so many years.
Katie and I met when we were about 10 years old. My family had just moved to Roxboro from Durham at the same time that her family did. My family had only been in Durham for 1 year before that, and the same for her family. My family had moved to Durham from Massachusetts (where I was born), and hers had moved there from New York. We were Yankees trying to survive in this new world of sweet tea and southern drawls ya’ll. (Funny fact: we had actually met once before that at a church when both of our families had lived in Durham but we didn’t like each other. I can’t really remember why, but I just remember that we didn’t.) Our moms met each other at some sort of PTA or school meeting at our elementary school and hit it off right away. I mean, finding another Yankee in the midst of Southern “kin” and lifelong friends is
hard impossible to come by, so I think they grasped on to each other immediately. They started getting together for play dates, and somewhere along the way, Katie and I started to think that perhaps the other was not so bad after all.
And so it began. 18 years of friendship (and counting)! So many memories.
There was the time (at 11 or 12 years old) when we were home alone and decided to drive her mom’s van up and down the driveway, which eventually led to driving it up and down the road. (Riley if you are reading this one day, that didn’t really happen.)
And that time when we went to the end of her road and put signs up for a “Free Concert” and proceeded to loudly and miserably play instruments incorrectly (on purpose) dressed in crazy outfits, just to see if anyone stopped. They did. We had an audience. It was weird.
OR that time (again at 11 or 12 years old) that we made a workout video for pregnant women. We literally stuck beach balls in our swimsuits and videotaped a workout called, “Janie Sue Fonda’s Workout for Pregnant Women” that was specifically geared toward women who were pregnant with septuplets. Judge all you want. There was a very demanding market for that at the time.
There was the time that we got our first “Limited Too” shirts together and insisted on swinging our bags proudly through the mall so that everyone could see that we shopped there.
The time when we wrote (and recorded) a song together and each had our copy of it to listen to when she was leaving for the summer to be with her Dad in New York. Here is a sample of the lyrics (I know it’s going to make you want more):
Two girls, 12 years old
They always did what they were told
Everyone knew they were best friends,
together nothing would end with them
To teach and to learn
Our friendship will never burn
Our friendship will never end
I’ll always remember the Limited Store
With all of those memories, I couldn’t want more
We didn’t care what people thought
because our friendship meant a lot
Eh hem. Yes, that happened. And yes, I still remember the words. I don’t know how, OK?! It’s not like I sat at home listening to that tape over and over again until I had it memorized so well that I could sing it backwards in my sleep… Oh, wait.
Then there was the time at 16 years old when we got sent home from youth camp for dressing inappropriately and smoking behind the forts.
(^ yes, we both legitimately curled our bangs under each day. That was cool then… right?)
The time when we both got our first boyfriends, had our first kisses, and survived our first heartbreaks.
And then there came the time when our friendship broke. When there was genuine concern that led to hurt and betrayal. That awful time where our friendship pretty much ended, followed by painful months and years where I no longer had Katie’s friendship and endured much pain and hardship without her sarcasm to make me laugh and her loyalty to make me strong. I was hurt. And angry. She was concerned. And angry. And then hurt.
See, this is where my friendship with Katie is so special and particularly different from every other friendship in my life. There was genuine hurt, pain and brokenness. And it tore us apart for a couple of years.
But that wasn’t the end of the story.
In college, after a bad (but good) breakup and some major life change on my part, there was that time where we reconciled. We said “I’m sorry” to each other. We forgave. We cried. We hugged. We promised not to let this happen again.
I visited her at UNCG and she came and visited me at Elon. We caught up on the phone. We texted and talked on AIM (so cool). We hung out over breaks. And slowly our friendship mended. And became stronger than ever.
I think there is something so powerful about having to confront someone who has hurt you, admit to your own mistakes, and work towards restoration of the relationship. So somewhere over the course of our college years, our friendship became something powerful.
I watched her get engaged to her high school sweet heart who I had set her up with :). She asked me to be her maid of honor. I threw her Bachelorette beach getaway.
And I watched her become a teacher.
She watched me go into full time ministry. And eventually realize that I was in love with my friend Jordan. And get engaged. I asked her to be my matron of honor. She threw my Bachelorette Beach Getaway.
I remember talking to her on the phone in March 2010 when she spilled the beans that she was pregnant.
On November 6, 2010, Landon Thomas Austin was born.
In March 2011, I pulled up at Target to meet her before we went to lunch, where I had planned on telling her my big news. She handed me a card that she had bought for me and written in before I had even told her. It said, “Congratulations on your pregnancy!” She just knew :).
2 days after Landon’s 1st birthday, November 8, 2011, Riley Grace Maroon was born.
I’m pretty sure I called Katie 29832098 times a day (ok ok, that is a bit of an exaggeration. It was more like 29832097) in Riley’s first few months asking, “What do I do about this?! What do I do about that?! 🙂
And now we call each other to laugh (or complain) about something we watched on TV, read in a book or article and stuff we see on Facebook. We call each other to cry together because one of us has just learned some really bad news. We call each other to ask for help with something. We call each other to share what God is teaching us. We meet each other for lunch.
And our kiddos play together.
True friendship is full of fun, laughter, tears, heartache, confession, forgiveness, healing, accepting, and growing.
Thank you Katie, for being such a true friend. Love you!