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'Best friends forever' means more each year

This summer, I'll celebrate many events. Memorial Day, which I started with somber reflection, ended with a few good friends gathered around the dinner table and laughing. Then it was Independence Day, which I take to heart but not for granted. Next is Bastille Day, which most Americans find unremarkable. It happens to also be my best girlfriend's birthday. Then, thanks to my parents, August has a holiday for me. It's the month of my birth.

I do not believe my parents' intent was to break up the gap between Independence Day and Labor Day with my birthday parties. I do send them thank you notes for doing so, nonetheless. This summer will be exceptionally festive. As I enter my 43rd year, I am looking forward to two anniversaries. One is a 40th anniversary. The other is a 20th anniversary.

My best girlfriend and I will have known each other for 40 years this summer. It's the 40th anniversary of our friendship. To me, that is simply fantastic and quite a gift to have.

Our families have told us that she and I met when we were 3 years old. We grew up with three houses between hers and mine. We ran through those three yards in everything from bare feet to snow boots, unimpeded by human neighbors but often forced to the road by the occasional four-legged neighbor or by the monsters my friend believed for the longest time lived in the trees in the yard right next to hers.

Other than those monsters, we grew up in a neighborhood and a time in which a kid could go out the front door shortly after breakfast and not come home until sunset and be safe every minute of the day. The neighborhood was actually one huge extended family. I probably had as many peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches at neighbors' houses as I did at my house, not to mention the hot cocoa, soup, popsicles and everything else that was happily shared.

As for my best girlfriend and me, I do not recall the moment our friendship started but I do recall and count as treasures many moments between then and now. Just like other important relationships, we have had our challenges. Admittedly, I caused too many of those and would love a do-over for them. It did not take 42 years and change for me to figure out how lucky we have been, and are, to have each other in our lives but I wish the revelation came about 39 years ago so that I would never cause her any tears. I have committed to have the spats only exist in the past tense.

As for the other anniversary, my husband and I will celebrate our first meeting, which happened 20 years ago. Unlike meeting my best girlfriend, I recall quite vividly the moment I first saw him. We were at a crowded company picnic. The crowd between us literally parted for that moment, which allowed me to catch a glimpse of his laughing, beautiful face. I just had to meet him. I did, and called my best girlfriend at the first available moment thereafter to tell her about him. She and I were 23 then but the giddiness in our voices was that of 13-year-olds. It was like when she told me she was going to ask her now-husband to our senior prom. Giggles, nervousness and joy all rolled into one. She and I have conversations like that to this day.

We share and laugh like it is 1977 or 1987 or 1997, all over again but way better.

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