Childhood friendships don’t always last forever, but the memories of these friendships often do. Some memories leave an indelible mark upon the pages of our lives. They help shape the person we are to become.
Little images of my childhood skip through my mind leaving an indelible mark, forever a part of who I am. The people we played with, laughed with, or cried with, lives and flourishes on the pages of our history. It is my belief that it is in the presence of one another we develop the ability to see beyond ourselves and into the heart of others.
My history includes Fiona of the Scottish Highlands, Jennifer of Epps Farm, neighbors from down the street, and the years of Jr. High in which books became my closest friends.
But my first childhood friend was my sister.
Melly, at first sight, seemed tiny and fragile. She had what I call itty bitty bird bones, giving the impression she could snap in an instant. Yet Melly has never broken a single bone. And though she may look like someone you could take down in a single blow, she’s as tough as they come. In fact, she may secretly be tougher than us all.
As for me, I was a girly girl with a strong appreciation for curled hair and frilly dresses. But I also had a fierce desire to protect my friends and see justice prevail. I was willing to throw a punch at someone if I needed to. I kept a pet crawfish in a coffee can on the back porch of our house in Houma, Louisiana. When the crawfish escaped, a few green lizards and a frog or two were the unfortunate captives who took his place.
On more than one occasion Melly and I would play games of hide-n-seek. We’d lean on the tree designated as ‘base’ and count to ten, our eyes closed (or half closed) before turning swiftly around yelling. “Ready or not, here I come!” The boughs of trees or the bed of the pickup truck were the perfect hiding spots. I preferred the trees.
We went rabbit hunting with Daddy and to the hair salon with Mama.
And when it didn’t rain, we’d make mud with the water hose Daddy kept beside the front porch so we could make beautiful pies decorated with flowers, leaves, and clover. We watched for the fairies who lived beneath the clover and when we did not find them we strung necklaces of clover flowers hoping we were not destroying someone’s home.
After bedtime, we sneaked into the hallway and laid on the floor, peeking our heads around the doorway so we could watch TV. We never got caught. Or at least Mama pretended she did not know we were there, allowing us the few precious moments of togetherness before falling asleep on the floor.
There were family pictures and chores and swinging and running and playing!
What I hate about my memories is that sometimes God kicks over some stones in my life, revealing pieces of my heart. In Junior High, I closed the door to my first friend, literally locking myself away in my very own bedroom-ignoring the knocks on the door from both my sisters asking me to play.
But I did more than close the door. I shut them out-of my room and my heart. I was not the noble Elsa who shut herself away to protect her sister. No. I was selfish. I wanted to be left alone. I was more like ‘The Incredibles’ moody and distant Violet but with the clothes of an eighties preppy mean girl. It wasn’t the clothes that made me mean. It was issues of the heart.
So, now we get to it. The thing for which I need to apologize. Melly, I saw myself as your protector when you were young. But as we got older and I became the ostrich with her head in the clouds, I left that role behind. I became ambivalent to my first friend. I felt I didn’t matter, so neither did anyone else. You fell. People saw it. I did not. I pretended not to. I kept walking. For this, I was wrong! What I wish I would have done is turn around and help you up. You would have done it for me. You have done it for me!
Thank you for being my first friend. What an honor to have you in my corner. Know this, I am in yours too!
I hope that in the future I am known for lifting others up. I never want to leave a brother or a sister lying in the dust.
Two are better than one,Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down,
one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.