Recently I watched a news segment about a group of women who had maintained a friendship for fifty years. I kept thinking how incredible to have a friendship bond for so many years.
Wait a minute.
I began adding up how long Vickie and I have been best friends.
We've know each other for forty six years, but our first year together was combatant to say the least. Add into this, we were both in the same Camp Fire Girl group, and it got ugly. We fought constantly.
We fought over Daniel Dusenberry. Oh my. He was the grade school equivalent of a Norse god. Daniel towered over every other ten-year old in the school. His blond wispy hair ruffled like feathers in the wind. Ocean-blue eyes to make you melt. And to top it all off, he had a silver front tooth. I don't remember why, other than something or someone knocked it out. He probably lost it in a fierce playground battle.
We both loved Daniel and were convinced he was our future husband. But only one of us could be the one. Of course I would be the one, and silly Vickie believed the same thing. We traded "I hate you" like baseball cards and the battle cry became "He'll choose me over you any day."
Turns out, he didn't like either one of us, and we've been best friends ever since.
She married very young and began moving around the country way before I did, and for awhile we lost touch, but would always find each other again. She became a single mom and a military mom. Again, we lost touch.
One Sunday morning I did something I never do. I opened the newspaper to the obituary section. The first thing I see is a notice about her mom's passing. I always loved her mom. When I walked into the funeral home and Vickie and I saw each other, I thought we'd both die of asphyxia we hugged each other so tight.
A few years later, she was deployed to Iraq, and I was terrified we'd lose each other forever. I packed up a box with snacks, socks, toiletries, and photos. Many of the photos I sent were of my flower garden. She tacked those on her wall to have the colors of home in the middle of a war in the desert.
Every day of her deployment, I thought about all of our times doing the things girls do and wondering how she came to be there, and I here. Several members of my family served in the military, but not me. I'm not a fan of camouflage, people yelling at me, or not having a daily shower. Mostly, I don't have the courage.
I often wonder what I'd do in a life or death situation, but wondering begins and ends in the same breath. I'm a damn good shot on a shooting range, but no one's ever shot at me.. The internal strength to choose to serve is amazing.
When she returned, she returned with injury and the challenges of having been in a war, but never giving in. She's too tough for that.
She's busy with grandbabies now, but at least we live in the same state only an hour apart. We text about The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones. We go to the zoo. We hangout for no particular reason than to just be together and talk about Daniel Dusenberry and wonder where he is now.
We have a different, deeper relationship than ever before. We have that relationship when we were at a Brad Paisley concert, and I was hugging her during the song Love and War, my hand ended up resting on her breast. I didn't feel the need to move it and never did she. Life is just that good and comfortable at this point in our lives.
She's three months older than I am and four inches shorter, and I remind her of that constantly.
Everyone needs a Vickie in their lives. We all need that friend who's not your spouse. We all need a hero in our lives.
Oh and about the photos, we were fourteen and sixteen and likely the last time I wore a bikini.