Facebook may tell you that “friends” can be cut out of your life at the click of a button, but I believe that true friends are forever, in one of two ways.
There are friends forever, the people you may not have quality time with for months or years, but when you do, you pick up where you left off as though it was just a few minutes ago. They are part of the ongoing thread of your life, even when you don’t see the needle moving.
Then there are forever friends. They may have been part of your life for only a season, but they stitched something special into the weave of your days that will never be lost. Let me tell you about some of mine.
It was our regular Friday morning prayer meeting at the Christian magazine where I worked. We’d get together in the editorial department library at the end of the week to catch up with each other and pray. Cake when we celebrated birthdays was a bit of a draw, too.
This particular morning, I asked them to pray for my parents. They were celebrating their fiftieth wedding anniversary this weekend, I explained, and I had hoped to be able to make it back to England to be with them, but it hadn’t worked out. Someone asked why and I told them how I’d had enough free miles to cover the distance, but when I’d tried to book a ticket I had discovered the dates were blackout days. There were sympathetic murmurs, and couple of prayers of blessing.
About an hour later Rob stuck his head round my office door and asked me to step into the main office area. They were all there. Uh-oh. This usually only happened if someone had resigned.
Rob explained that there’d been a hurried email conference after the prayer meeting. The ring leader, he’d then gotten on the phone to the airline, told them about my free ticket woes and said, basically, “Our friend needs to get to England. Today. What do we need to do to make that happen?”
The airline rep agreed to bend a few rules and work with me to find a free flight. However, I wouldn’t be able to fly into the airport nearest to where my parents lived because of the short notice. No problem: Rob and the team had a collection to cover the cost of interior travel in the U.K.
Within a couple of hours I was on my way to the airport. Having to undergo the most thorough of post-9/11 searches by a security team slightly suspicious of someone who’d booked an international flight that morning was a minor cost. The look on my parents’ face when I arrived unannounced at their front door the following morning was priceless.
They’d known I wasn’t going to be able to make it for their Golden Wedding day. What had happened, they wanted to know?
“Friends,” I said.
Our various paths have diverged in the years since that Friday intervention. Some still intersect occasionally—yes, a few of us are friends on Facebook—others not so much. But they all remain forever friends, sewing into me a deep appreciation for unexpected acts of kindness.