To have friends where you can just pick up after eighteen years is a real blessing. To be able to talk non-stop (unusual for me) was incredible. To share something of our lives was a joy. To exclaim at the wonder of children now fully grown was predictable and delightful (their baby was six months old last time we saw her - a lot has changed in that time obviously). To discover that nothing has really changed - that we're just as young and beautiful as before (on the inside at least) was a huge bonus.
For me there was another bonus to this weekend visit which has left me feeling immensely grateful. I met our friends when I went nursing. We were all in the same class. Not one of us finished our studies in nursing. I've often felt like a failure for that reason but today my friend put it into perspective. At the time that we met she was searching for God and God placed beside her a boy whom she thought was rather cute and who was a Christian and a girl whom she'd never met before but would end up sharing a flat/apartment with and who was also a Christian. Within months my friend became a Christian. She married the boy and the girl (me!) was her matron of honour. She told me today that she had always been so aware of how God had placed the right people in her life at the right time. And all along I've thought I'd failed badly.
I also loved seeing them interact with The Most Adorable Granddaughters in the World who thought they were the next best thing to sliced bread! I suspect my friend read herself hoarse reading to The Most Adorable Granddaughters#1-#3.
But, as with all good things, it had to come to an end. And an ending meant a sad parting. To say goodbye was hard - for me at least. Perhaps, more so, because I was aware that while family and work and life keep me busy and mostly fulfilled, I miss similar friendships in real life. There are friends - but not on the same level. Not another couple that DH and I both enjoy spending time with, can talk to at any time about anything, and know will be there for us if we ever need someone. It took a visit this weekend to make me realise how much I miss such friendships.
However, I am extremely grateful that I have known such friendships in my lifetime and I'm determined to let nothing ruin those friendships - especially something as insignificant as distance or busyness.
Impossible to get us all smiling at the same time - especially when all I wanted to do was cry! - so these will have to do. And for a blast from the past (minus DH who was behind the camera):