Sunday, June 9, 2013

Change of Plans

“So long as the memory of certain beloved friends lives in my heart, 
I shall say that life is good.” ~ Helen Keller

High school. In the hearts of some, those words probably bring terror. For others they bring memories of glory days.

For me high school brings to mind 2 words: Cathy and Jason.

To our classmates, if they even paid attention, I’m sure we looked like 3 teenagers with nothing in common. I was the bookworm who served as class secretary. Cathy was the new girl in town. (The hot new girl no less...) And Jason was the golfer and basketball player who never wanted attention called to himself.

But just as many lasting friendships begin with the little things, a few football games, several dances and a lot of “riding around” evenings became an unbreakable bond between us three. Hour upon hour of phone calls, night after night of scary movies, more football games, and driving around in Jason’s car fondly known as Brownie were the foundations for our unique relationship. Soon we added snowball fights, birthday parties, Sunday afternoon naps, first loves, heartbreaks and finally college – making that foundation more like a small apartment where our hearts resided together.

As we grew older, life got in the way. Our hearts moved into their own houses now – separate but still connected by history. Jason and I continued in college while Cathy got married and started a family. Pretty soon, I began my career and Jason worked to establish himself in the healthcare industry. Despite the differences in our lives – and the crazy schedules we all had – Jason and I maintained frequent contact. Always touching base ever few weeks – if even just a short text or phone call – was the way we carried on for the 20 years after college.

Jason was the one I told about falling in love, career ups and downs, doubts and fears of parenthood and the one I asked for advice about difficult situations. He was often a voice of reason and understanding when I found I’d climbed into a tree and didn’t want to come down. He was always thinking about ways my husband could improve his business – and always wanted to hear about my children and what they were doing. I was his link to the past and one of the few people he could be fully himself with. He knew I’d always make him brownies when he came to visit – and I’d understand when he put on his giant glasses and cut off t-shirt to get comfortable. We were old friends – comfortable in our own skin and loved each other the way only those authentic, long-lasting friends can.

A few times, when we needed a “friend fix”, I’d call Cathy so we could all meet for dinner or something when we knew Jason was passing through Dallas. It almost always became a time of reminiscing about the precious early years of our friendships – and laughing about how different we’d all become since then. While never long enough, these moments were precious to us all. They were reminders that we would always have each other. That neither miles nor milestones, poverty nor prosperity, happiness nor sadness could ever take away the time shared between us.

My joke for the last 28 years has been that I intended to get a room right next to Jason’s in the retirement home someday – just so I could pester him. (He always said he’d be senile and asking the nurse to get that crazy lady away from him.)

But obviously there was a different plan. God must have needed a guy with great business sense – and I’m sure there’s a conference call in Heaven that Jason just couldn’t miss. So I’m thankful for all those text and phone calls I didn’t miss over the years. And I’ll hold close the times we were able to get together in person. But most of all, I think I’ll just miss my best friend and always wish we’d had more time.

If I was a betting girl, I’d say he’s up there pacing around on his Heavenly cell phone, eating a brownie and thankful to be out of pain.

But I am going to miss him. A lot.

Jase, the world is a sadder place without you in it. Save me a place on your block in Heaven. I love you.