By Jacci Smith Reed
Last month, I experienced the loss of my best friend. But she was more than just a best friend. She was the very first best friend in my life. Over 63 years of friendship goes a long way.
Many years ago, we moved states apart, and rarely saw each other over the years. But with the miracle of Facebook, we were able to reconnect and during the past years were able to pick up that “best friend connection” that we created so many decades ago.
It has finally dawned on me just how important our first best friend is in our lives. By the time I was 8, I had four best friends and even to this day, whenever we see each other, it is as though time has stood still and we can pick up exactly where we left off the last time we were together.
The experts tell us that our first best friends understand and shape us into the adults we are today. I think they are right.
Our friends know our strengths and weaknesses because they were there when those traits were developing. There’s an emotional support because they were there to see us through all of those awkward moments – the bad haircut, the first date, the first kiss. They were the ones who convinced us to ride the roller coaster or to take a chance on something we weren’t sure we could do.
We were able to bond because we were growing up together. We were making the same mistakes and wondering if we would ever get through our teen years. They are the people we first learned to trust and the people who first trusted us.
And then there’s simply the “hometown” togetherness. When most of us think of our childhood, we immediately envision ourselves not standing alone, but standing with our best friend.
When you are 6 and you see another 6-year-old walking in front of your house, you quickly think she could be your best friend. That just doesn’t happen when you are 60.
As children, we learn to bond with our best friends in a natural and learning way. I think that’s because we are learning about life together – the good, the bad and the ugly.
Through grammar school and high school, they answered the countless questions that we never would have asked our parents. It is a bond that sticks for a lifetime. It just never breaks.
In my life, there was Joanne, Kathy, Marie and myself. We were inseparable throughout our teens and into our early 20s. We lived through more relationships than any of us would care to remember, and were there to share our wedding day with each other when the “right” one finally came along.
Eventually, life took us in different directions, but the bond has always remained. And I know now it always will.
I like to think that the best part of me came from my best friends on Orchard Drive. I learned to love, to give, to share, to lose and to try again. I learned the difference between strength and weakness, and what was important and what was not.
It was a lot harder than I ever thought it would be to have to say goodbye to my first best friend. She was the kindest, funniest, most caring friend who grew up to be all of those things as a wife, mother, grandmother and friend to countless others in her life.
If you are lucky enough to still have your first best friend in your life, maybe you should reach out to him or her today and just say hi. Say I love you and I always will. Say thank you for being my best friend.