This is what over three decades of friendship looks like.
We have carried one another through the deepest losses and rejoiced together through the greatest joys.
We met in Tulare, California, before any of us had kids. Some of us had mullets. Some of us had perms. Some over-achievers had both.
We would decide at the end of each week, with our whopping $30 in the bank (I’m speaking now for the Espinozas), where we wanted to go. Usually it was Arby’s in Fresno for roast beef sandwiches and Jamocha shakes along with shopping at Fresno mall. Sometimes to Shagnasty’s or Mearle’s Drive-In in Visalia.
We used to go street witnessing on Friday nights to tell people that Jesus loved them and invite them to open their hearts to Him. Then we would go to Jay and Carole’s house to watch Miami Vice.
Trips to the coast were a highlight. We’d pack up on Saturday morning and head to Pismo Beach for the day. Carole, who brought from Wisconsin a knack for making bagel sandwiches, usually shouldered the responsibility for the day’s tasty nutritional requirements. We would attempt to pack lunches, but they paled in comparison to Carole’s creations featuring quality cheese, lunchmeat, pickles, and fresh bagels. I’ll be honest. As a Texas girl back in the day, I don’t know if I had ever even seen a bagel. Roman Meal sliced bread was the furthest I’d ventured from plain white Wonder Bread for sandwiches.
The worst sunburn I ever got happened on one of our Pismo Beach days. I remember distinctly, I was wearing a Minnie Mouse one-piece swimsuit Chip bought for me. Oh, the agony of trying to sleep that night with flaming flesh. And yet, it was so easy to fall asleep on the sand in Pismo just hours before….sans sunscreen.
The common thread in these friendships….we loved each other, enjoyed being together, and accepted one another’s imperfections. And we loved God. We wanted our lives to reflect His love for people. Were we perfect? Absolutely not! Are we perfect now? Are you kidding?! The common thread remains…we are 100% dependent on God as our source. And we are 100% grateful that He chose to bring us together so long ago, knowing the hardships we would help each other endure. And the joys we would share.
God, you are the giver of all good gifts. Thank you for the gift of lifelong friendships. Thank you for those who stick with us through the good, the bad, the ugly. And help us recognize that the first on this list is you. Amen.