Christmas 1996. It just seems like yesterday, but a whole lot can happen in 13 years! This is really weird: going back and re-reading my letters, knowing all that has happened since then. It's like time travel. It's like looking at pictures from the '70's and thinking, "I can't believe I wore my hair that way!" I think, "I should have written it this way. . . or that way", but it was who I was at the time. And we're talking about a journey. And about becoming.
Each year, my letters seem to take on a life of their own and develop a theme all by themselves. These days, I do try to figure out what that theme should be, but in the beginning, it was not quite so organized. The theme of my current letters revolves around the life lessons I've learned from my experiences during the year. Thankfully, as I grow older, I seem to learn more lessons, more quickly. That being the case, my posts on here will be numerous from a single letter. And the memories that are evoked by what I read . . . and the things I forgot at the time . . . and the things I didn't have room to say.
I would have to say that the theme for that first letter was Friends: old friends, new friends, temporary friends, friends in need and friends in deed. Now, I've been blessed with many friends. In fact, because I have friends, I consider myself successful, fulfilled, safe and extremely wealthy. I have friends that I know would come close to laying down their lives for me. I met one of those really good ones in my first letter. She's my best bud and I believe she'd take a bullet for me. Is that not riches?!
There are times in our lives, though, when we come across people who befriend us when there is no possible way for them to ever reap a reward for it - other than in the life to come. I tell about such people in that first letter. Shortly before we moved to Mississippi, I made a trip with my mother to see my brother and his family and my Dad and step-mother. My hubby had to work so he stayed behind at home. We began our trip home on a Sunday in the morning. We were traveling in the middle of nowhere in Arkansas when "the thing that I feared the most" happened to us. We broke down! In the middle of no where! Very few houses in sight. I can't remember how many people were with us, but it was more than just mother and I. We had several children with us, as I recall.
Who wants to see a bunch of strangers standing on their doorstep on a beautiful Sunday morning just in time to interrupt their day?
I met some true-to-life good Samaritans that Sunday morning. This precious, older couple, took us in, fed us, and let us stay in their home all day long! First of all, I didn't have a cell phone and when I tried to phone my husband from their phone, he was at Church and no one would answer the phone! Why do Churches have phones if no one is going to answer them? For goodness sakes, it could be an emergency! It was an emergency! I'm stuck in the middle of nowhere! To make a long story short, it was evening when he arrived to rescue us. Those people were angels, as far as I'm concerned. They wouldn't take anything for their trouble and were the most gracious of hosts to these strangers. We could have been criminals as far as they knew but if that thought ever crossed their mind, we never knew it.
That's friends in deed.
And I wouldn't even remember their names if I didn't have it written down.
I know that I have written many times, over the years, about my friends, so you'll hear about them as well. I treasure them. I like the words of Emily Dickinson, "My friends are my estate. Forgive me then the avarice to hoard them. They tell me those who were poor early have different views of gold. I don't know how that is. God is not so wary as we, else He would give us no friends, lest we forget Him." Our friends help shape who we are, who we become.
I thank God for the blessing of Friends.