Best friends (by Billy Coffey)

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Every morning on my way to work the road takes me up a hill that offers what may well be the best possible view of our town. It’s a scene I never get tired of appreciating, though for the past week or so I haven’t taken the time to turn my head and do so. Because that’s just about the time Randy crests that same hill in the opposite direction, and I want to see if he waves.

We worked together in my previous job, suffering alongside one another through shift work and factory life. We were close in the way guys are, which means we’d laugh share our gripes and make fun of the other’s favorite sports team and punch each other in the arm. Male bonding is a complicated thing.

When I quit to take my current job, we kept in touch through phone calls and emails. A few months later, the phone calls stopped. The emails stopped soon thereafter.

He was laid off from the factory about a year ago and took a job that brought him my way every morning. I’d pass his jacked-up Chevy along the road and we’d both throw our hands up and wave. That’s the way it was for a while, our once close friendship reduced to a two second mention of the hand every Monday through Friday.

Then last Monday, I was fiddling with the radio station and he snuck up on me. No wave.

The next day, he was on his cell phone. No wave again. The day after that, I sneezed. Another no-wave.

There were no complications the day after that. We saw each other coming, my radio was good, there was no cell phone, and my nose was clear.

We passed each other as strangers.

I was thinking about all of this yesterday as I listened to a message on the answering machine. Thirty-seven seconds of observations that covered everything from lunch to clothing to the newest must-have technological doodad. I played it twice to catch it all and was impressed to notice that it had all seemed to be done in a single breath. The caller identified neither herself nor to whom the message was for, but her tinny, high-pitched voice could only mean it was one of my daughter’s classmates.

Her rambling continued, brushing up on the latest Suite Life episode and some juicy classroom gossip. Satisfied that all bases had been covered, she then said goodbye, but not before offering this one promise:

“We’re going to be best friends forever, I just know it.”

I smiled to myself at those words and saved them on the machine for my daughter to hear later. It may not have been the most important message of the day on our telephone, but it was without a doubt the most interesting.

Such phone calls have become pretty regular in our house in the weeks since school has started. My daughter is quite the social butterfly, a facet of her personality she did not inherit from her father. As such, she has a steady influx of friends who seem to have our phone number on speed dial.

But the girl who left a message? She’s different.

Her and my daughter have been classmates since kindergarten. There have been sleepovers, play dates, birthday parties, and even an exchange of gifts every Christmas. Given that both of their names begin with M, they are known by students and faculty simply as M & M. Where you see one, you will see the other. To say they’re close would be an understatement.

At seven, they’ve known each other for more than half of their lives and about three quarters of their memory. It stands to reason that to them, it will always be such. There are no doubts and no hesitations. Life is simple, like one long and unbroken line that stretches on forever.

That’s how it is when you’re young. Everything seems so certain because there’s so much you don’t know. And a friend is a friend forever.

Maybe M & M are right. Maybe second grade will turn into high school and then college and then, one day, bridesmaids. I hope so.

One of the harshest lessons we must learn is that the tides of time will wash some into our lives and then out again. There are those in our lives destined to remain on our shores, and others meant only to find rest there before sailing upon other seas.

But rather than mourn the many those tides take away, we should rejoice in the few left behind. For they are the ones who walk alongside us.

To read more from Billy Coffey, visit him at his blog What I Learned Today and follow him on twitter at @BillyCoffey

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16 Responses to “Best friends (by Billy Coffey)”

  1. Helen July 19, 2010 at 1:10 am #

    It’s possible. My cousin Therese has been best friends with my husband’s cousin Sue for 46 years, since they were in kindergarten. They are the ones who introduced Bob and me.
    Are the odds with M&M? Well, I only keep in touch with anyone I know from grammar school via facebook. If facebook was never invented, I wouldn’t know what happened to any of them.
    I hope M&M will be blessed like Sue and Therese.
    .-= Helen´s last blog ..Happy Birthday- Candy! =-.

  2. susie @newdaynewlesson July 19, 2010 at 6:44 am #

    That had me thinking on many levels. What you are feeling? What your friend must be feeling.

    Are you upset that he doesn’t seem to care? Maybe he thinks you were the first not wave? Who knows.

    I know that I personally if it bothered me at all, would make it a point to speak to the guy and part at least on my part in peace.

    Lovely writing as always.
    .-= susie @newdaynewlesson´s last blog ..Even Annoyance Can Be Forged Into A Treasured Moment =-.

    • Helen July 19, 2010 at 9:11 am #

      Good point about Randy maybe thinking that Billy didn’t wave first. Perhaps Billy just needs to be the first one to wave again. If he doesn’t get a response, I think you are right. He should talk to Randy if it is on his heart like this.
      .-= Helen´s last blog ..Happy Birthday- Candy! =-.

  3. Lisa Jordan July 19, 2010 at 9:31 am #

    There’s a quote that reads, “Some people come into our lives and quickly go. Some stay for awhile and leave footprints on our hearts. And we are never, ever the same.”

    I’ve had close friends who are now once-a-year addresses on my Christmas card list. Makes me sad at times when I think about those friendships, but I appreciate their footprints on my heart.

  4. Louise July 19, 2010 at 9:41 am #

    Beautiful story-telling — as always.

    And, as always, thought provoking.

    I moved a lot as a child — from country to country — and lost many friends along the way. But I still have three friends from my childhood who have stayed the distance and the time. And I feel blessed.

    It is possible, your road warrior friend is preoccupied and as others have suggested — waiting for you to make the first move.

    We invite into our life that which we need. Perhaps, what you needed was the opportunity to not wave to reflect on the value of friendship?

    Lovely post. thank you!
    .-= Louise´s last blog ..Turning away from nothing =-.

  5. Joanne Sher July 19, 2010 at 9:56 am #

    I had a friend like that for a while anyway – we met in third grade, and were VERY good friends up until high school. I was in her wedding, and then we lost touch. Found her on facebook recently (actually, she found me! But still). It is SO rare to have a true BFF. But every friendship is dear in its own way. Loved this, Billy
    .-= Joanne Sher´s last blog ..Crystal Clear- Fiction Friday =-.

  6. Maureen July 19, 2010 at 10:05 am #

    We’ve all experienced this. What is it that holds us back from waving anyway or making the first call after a long hiatus of no contact or sending an e-mail or a hand-written note that says I’m thinking about you and hope you are doing ok? Is it really so important who makes the first move?

    I remember a post at OurCancer in which the writer wrote about going out for a walk in late evening and passing a long row of houses and wondering how much pain those houses held, invisible hurts. The next day she called one of those neighbors and learned about the individual’s cancer. We just can’t know until we take the step we thought was blocked.
    .-= Maureen´s last blog ..Monday Muse- Iowas Poet Laureate =-.

  7. Glynn July 19, 2010 at 12:24 pm #

    At the beginning of my junior year in high school, I met a guy who quickly became my best friend. People referred to us just like M & M (but different initials). Later, I was the best man at his wedding. For various reasons, we grew apart. We chose very different paths. But I don’t think I’ve had a friend as close as I had to him since.
    .-= Glynn´s last blog ..Looking for That Toy Radio =-.

  8. jasonS July 19, 2010 at 1:24 pm #

    So true Billy. I’ve thought before about relationships and deep friendships I’ve had. When we get together, it’s great and the same bond is there, but when we’re apart there’s no closeness or even contact. You just rejoice in where you are and the people who are beside you and thank God you’ve had the others who walked there once and may walk there again.

    Great reflective post. I enjoyed it! Thanks.
    .-= jasonS´s last blog ..Meditation on Perfect Peace =-.

  9. Jennifer July 19, 2010 at 2:18 pm #

    This post hit home and has left me feeling a little melancholy. Without going into any of her personal details, I’ll just say I have a friend who is going through a terrible time, and I wanted to be there to help. We live in different states. I’ve called her four times over the last few months and haven’t received a call back. Meanwhile, through facebook and such, I see how others are constantly helping her, for which I am glad. I just wish she wanted me to help, too. I’m bewildered how we could go from being friends for the last 15 years to not communicating at all, especially during such a difficult time. I understand the confusion that friendship sometimes brings of which you write and am grateful for those few true friends that remain in my life.

  10. Sandra Heska King July 19, 2010 at 4:01 pm #

    The sad thing is that this sometimes happens in families, too. This I know.
    .-= Sandra Heska King´s last blog ..A Towla Worm and Chill Bumps =-.

  11. A Simple Country Girl July 19, 2010 at 8:22 pm #

    Didn’t find a best friend until just before graduating high school. I was sent to take care of this tall, skinny, dark-haired boy who kept pestering my little sister in her smarty-pants math class. Ya know, I was ready for fisticuffs and a proper tongue-lashing, but he had other plans. We got married five years later!

    What a gift for your daughter to have such a sweet best friend.

    .-= A Simple Country Girl´s last blog ..Fray of Your Day =-.

  12. Melissa from the Blue House July 19, 2010 at 11:55 pm #

    Loved this. I just went through a horrible, painful divorce only to find that one of the most painful parts of it was that I lost friends too. But then God brought some new ones into my life. So from a year ago until now, I have a TOTALLY different group of friends and my social life looks much different. And I don’t think I’ll ever take my friends for granted again; I know I couldn’t have made it through the past few months without them.
    .-= Melissa from the Blue House´s last blog ..New Job Random Thoughts =-.

  13. Jake July 20, 2010 at 11:22 pm #

    “That’s how it is when you’re young. Everything seems so certain because there’s so much you don’t know. And a friend is a friend forever.”

    So, with age, experience, knowledge and all that, comes uncertainty? I guess so. That just makes me feel so jaded (Yeah, I was underhandedly complimenting myself there) But seriously, I’ve seen so many relationships come and go that it’s depressing. Some I knew were for a season and regretted the end, others I pushed for the end, and some, I’m still fighting for.

    Great post. Billy, you’re great at pulling the profundity out of simple situations. Wonderful.
    .-= Jake´s last blog ..Life of the Believer Part 7- Sleeping In =-.

  14. Kelly Langner Sauer July 23, 2010 at 4:00 pm #

    We moved every few years while I was growing up, and my heart friends are scattered all across the country. I still wonder what it would be like to have a best friend who lived in my town, that I could hang out with, have playdates with, just generally enjoy life with. I know better than most how people come and go… and unfortunately, that knowledge often keeps me from opening my heart up. Getting it ripped out got old fast.

    I’m still learning that God has His ways and I have mine, and I doubt the two will meet this side of heaven. But I do treasure the friendships that I have, and it helps a bit that I married my best friend. We hang out a lot, and I am pretty sure he’s not going anywhere…
    .-= Kelly Langner Sauer´s last blog ..“playing toward God” =-.


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