“Though it’s hard to let you go, in the Father’s hands we know / that a lifetime’s not too long to live as friends.”
Anne and May have a new book out, the fourth in their Miracle Girls series, and they’re devoting their blog this week to the theme, Friends are Friends Forever, which is a Christian song from the 80s and you haven’t lived unless you’ve tried to sing it through TEARS while sending a friend off to a big move or high school graduation. If I blog about a forever friend this week, I get entered in a contest to win their books. I don’t really need to win, because I’ve already bought them all. But oh the nostalgia of that theme.
This is the friend I’m writing about. Her name is Lee. I have a few billion LIFE THEORIES that come from knowing Lee. I’m not even kidding. And because I can’t tell you about every movie night, every youth group meeting, and every year of my life with Lee that led to how much I love her, I’m going to to tell you the stories behind those life theories instead. And that should tip the iceberg for ya on everything wonderful that is Lee.
In youth group, she used to call us Peeps (short for People). That was the first thing I copied from her. One friend at my own school accepted it as a Serenity original and even signed my yearbook with the handle.
Before Lee turned sixteen, she wanted to drive in the church parking lot, and her mom wouldn’t let her, to which Lee famously (in our circles anyway) tossed her mom the keys and sighed, “Come on, Mom. Live a little.” Which immediately became my motto.
Lee was the first of us to get married, and everything I fantasized about being a newlywed came from their tiny apartment and their best-friendish love and the two-seated bicycle they rode at their wedding reception. Around that time Lee became Lee and Peter, and a lot of my life theories are from both of them.
Lee is the reason I think Friday the Thirteenth is cool. She was born on that day. She’s pretty much the funnest person on the planet, and with or without her own love for Friday the Thirteenth, she changed my opinion about the day forever. I now think of it as the Day When Any Good Thing Might Happen. Something good, like Lee.
When she had her first baby, she laughed. Everyone still tells that story around here. Because it’s amazing. Because no matter how brave the rest of us were – and some of us not so much – Lee’s the only one remembered for actually laughing clear through the delivery. Which, as if you can’t see where this is going, changed my perspective on labor forever and removed all the scarring from hundreds of times I sat at a table with middle-aged women sharing their labor horror stories. Lee’s laughter washed it all away.
She and Peter have a big house now, and it’s full of things they love and things they’ve bought for their kids, and things they’ve moved through various stages of old and broken to new and cool. One of the first times we visited there, a mess or two lay around, and Lee said happily, “If we waited to have a perfect house before we had people over, we’d never have anyone over at all.” And immediately I knew I had to develop that kind of hospitality too or perish in the attempt. My oldest son is in class with Lee’s oldest son and after a recent birthday party John got in our car and said, “That was the best slumber party EVER.” And I laughed clear to my toes, because of course it was. It was Lee and Peter.
They’re moving soon. And not moving, like, just out of town to a country house or across town to a bigger one. Lee and Peter are moving across the ocean, back to Sweden where Peter is from. And I think the only reason my heart isn’t completely broken in two is because it doesn’t seem like something Lee would do. It would be much more Lee-like to buy a jar the size of my 4-year-old and put it in a corner of the dining room. And every time anyone found a penny, a quarter, or a dollar bill – into the jar it would go, clanking behind the label, “So We Can Visit the Pihlstroms Someday”. I think I’ll try something like that. But since I’m not Lee altogether and I only want to be like her, I’ll also probably cry a little.