A best friend is truly hard to find, and while acquaintances may be many, true friends are few. Growing up I was told that if you can count the number of real and true friends that you have over the course of your life on one hand, you are absolutely blessed. I didn’t really understand the meaning of that until I started moving from place to place–first to college and then to our first Army post. My Mom used to tell me, “Friends will come, and friends will go.” And, I began to see she was right. You will find friends in every single stage of life, but few make it to the point where they transcend that common stage where you first met/became friends into the next stage, still right by your side (if not physically, but emotionally.)
The truth is that it takes effort to stay connected. And in a very busy stage of life where most of my peers are busy professionals, newlyweds or parents, there isn’t a lot of down time to connect with that person you knew that now lives 1,000 miles away. You also may lose some of the things that connected you in the first place; for example, you took the same class in college, so you would get together for study dates at Starbuck’s. When the class ends, that friendship will need to find additional common ground in order to sustain itself. Some do; some don’t. And, that’s OK.
I have learned that it is NOT the frequency that you see or even communicate with someone that makes a true friend. But, it is the fact that both people make an effort to stay connected in some way. It may just be a card at Christmas or a quick text message to say, “Hey, I am thinking about you! Hope all is well.” It may be a quick chat in the grocery store or a Facebook message. Friendship comes in so many forms, and I absolutely value all of the people whom I am able to call friend. Even if I don’t check in with you every day, it doesn’t mean I am not thinking of you, praying for you, and wishing you well.
In my opinion, a best friend is someone who is there a little more frequently and is actively involved in the daily happenings of your life. Most people can only have 1-2 of these people at any given time because it takes more investment, more checking in, and frankly more effort. A spouse, parent or sibling is most often in the “best friend” category because they have to (or have committed to) love you no matter what. There is substantial interest in keeping in touch in these kinds of relationships. If you have a friend who is equally as invested in your life as your family members, you are extremely lucky. I believe many people never encounter such a friend and cycle through “best friends” just because it is hard to maintain this close of a relationship, especially as you both evolve and change. It is really hard if you are a military family because nothing is constant. Either you move, or your friends do, in a never-ending cycle. The nice thing about this is that you develop deep and lasting friendships from each post, whom you can keep in touch with from a distance.
I have seen the statistic that if a friendship lasts 7 or more years, it is likely to last for a lifetime, and I believe that is likely true. You change a lot in 7 years, so if you are able to stay close through those changes, you have a very special kind of friendship.
I have been reflecting on best friends today after Jessica Belue (now Tilson) and her husband, Will came to visit Luke and I in Columbus, GA this weekend. Other than our immediate family members and Luke’s Army buddies, this is the ONLY set of friends who has been able to make the trip down multiple times just to spend a weekend with us. This is not to fault any of our other friends, who we absolutely understand have busy lives. While we would love to see any of them any time and our guest room is always open, we understand that each person’s situation is different, and some even live thousands of miles away! The great thing is that we can continue to be great friends without visiting each other. But, it did mean more than words could say that those two were willing to make the 4-hour drive through constant rain and a chance of snow down to see us for only about 36 hours.
Let me tell you a little about my amazing best friend, Jess. She and I met in 2006 through a high school internship, and we have stayed connected ever since. I consider myself to be one of the fortunate ones to have a friend who would be so committed to me during the various stages of our lives. We knew each other before either of our spouses ever entered the picture. We both signed off our seal of approval on each other’s significant other, helped plan & participated in the other’s surprise proposal, and got to be each other’s Maid of Honor at our weddings.
But, the neat thing about our friendship is that only during 4 years of our friendship did we actually live in the same city. We attended rival high schools and colleges, but we always found the time and energy for each other and managed to maintain a long distance friendship with style. For example, during our wedding planning, we each held 4-5 showers, and neither of us missed a single one of the other’s events. This involved significant travel to different cities and of course a financial commitment as well. She never hesitated to come along with me whether we were dress shopping in Birmingham, holding a shower in Tuscaloosa or visiting in laws in North Carolina. That meant so much more to me than I could ever express, and I tried to do the same for her. After all, you have to be a friend to have a friend. But, throughout our whole friendship, I can honestly say Jess has always been there for me. And, I know that we will continue to make an effort to see each other no matter where we may move. The icing on the cake is that our husbands get along so well, too!
Even though Luke and Will are different, they seem to complement one another very well, and we all have so much fun together. Therefore, our group vacation excursions have taken us to Gulf Shores, Lynchburg, Atlanta, Savannah, Nashville and more. We have never hesitated to take a weekend trip with them because everyone has a blast.
So, what is a best friend?
To me, a best friend is the person you can call when the world seems to be falling apart, and she helps you see it more clearly. A best friend is the person you can tell your secrets to and know that it won’t go any farther than her. A best friend is someone you can be your absolute self around and not be judged. For example, this weekend when they were here to visit, I wore my Christmas pajamas with the striped candy cane flannel pants that only Luke has seen because they are slightly embarrassing. But, I did not think twice before putting them on, because I am comfortable enough with them to just be who I am. A best friend makes you feel safe to be yourself. A best friend lets you know she’s always there for you, even when you’re not physically together. In our case, we text, and schedule regular phone conversations just to be updated on each other’s day to day lives. Although we both have many other friends, many of whom live closer, we always make the time and effort to catch up. A best friend is there in your lowest moments and listens without judging; we are each other’s confidantes when it comes to everything from scary health issues to financial or professional issues to personal issues. A best friend really listens and asks thoughtful follow up questions when you share stories.
I can say without a doubt that Jess is a best friend to me. I believe best friends are rare and so hard to find, so I am beyond blessed to have a friend like Jess. I miss her a lot, so this weekend was very much needed and just so fun for the 4 of us!
To recap, a few of our many adventures and laughs:
First, on Friday night, we had dinner and drinks at Buckhead Bar & Grill in Columbus. The creme brulee was the best part of the meal.
Then on Saturday, we had lunch at Your Pie and went to Escape This Live and participated in a Nuclear Recovery Escape this Room adventure.
While the guys relaxed in the afternoon, we went to get pedicures at Footique for some needed girl time.
Then, we got home and had a quick cookout with our neighbors/military friends, the Youngs. We all went to the hockey game together. I love that we can mix our older and newer friends and everyone gets along so well! I also loved showing Jess & Will a Slice of our Life here in Columbus since we attend the hockey games pretty frequently.
Finally, we ended the night on a good note with a game of Rook and a few episodes of Friends (always a classic)! They had to leave early this morning to get home, but it was just so good to see them. I feel like we fit a lot of good quality time into a short period of time.
Jess, thank you again for making the drive/effort to come down to visit and for always being there for me. I am so lucky to call you my best friend!!!