Friday, October 10, 2008

My longest friendship deserves a LONG post...

I have a friend named Amy. She is amazing. She has always been amazing. Not to mention she has always been the pretty one and still is, on the inside and outside. This is not self pity, I was the outgoing one, the athletic one, the reckless one and other things, but she has always been the pretty one, the kind one,  the graceful one, the wise one.

To the best of my recollection, we have known each other since 2nd grade, and been good friends since 6th grade. Our friendship has always been unique--not the typical BFF friendship. We had different social circles, different interests (let's be honest, we had opposite interests), and different ways of thinking about life. We never hung out at school, and rarely after school, did not attend each other's birthday parties (right, Amy? I couldn't think of one we went to. But I do remember coming to your house and exchanging Christmas presents--one year we bought each other the same poster!), and our friends did not necessarily like each other. 

Yet, since at least 9th grade, I have called her my very best friend. Best-est, actually.

Our list of inside jokes is long, very, very long, and our memories together are endless. Up until 10th grade most of those memories were made on long drives, long walks, beach shores, and ski lifts, in tents, houseboats and 9th grade honors geometry. After 10th grade, it was phone calls, double dates (ones we weren't always allowed to be on, shhh), Friday nights at Java and Jazz, and more trips to our favorite hang out, the beach. 

To choose just one memory from that era to share seems impossible. I like defeating the impossible. Many, many Saturday mornings from November to March, my dad--a brave man--would load up Fredrick Stanley the Van Snowmobile with skis, boots, gloves, hats, jackets and poles, and 4 kids. Amy and I got the back of the van, where we would recline one seat and make a bed. Since it was usually around 4:30 am, we went back to sleep...unless we were too busy whispering and laughing. One particular Saturday, after half a day on the slopes of Snow Summit, we were freezing and tired. We got off the lift, on which we had sung Phantom of the Opera songs at the top of our off-key voices, and started down the difficult run. For the first time (and not the last), we decided to go off the beaten path, past the signs that warned you to stay on the trail, and ski through the trees. It did not take us long to get lost. We took off our skis, sat down in the snow, and laughed. That's what we always did.  We giggled as we created in our minds the handsome guys who would come to our rescue, and we giggled as we ate snow. We sang more songs (they either came from Phantom or KOST 103.5) and just talked.

When we realized we were only getting colder and no one was coming (how would they know where we were?), we put our skis back on and trekked out. It was Snow Summit, not Mammoth, eventually you will always make it back to a run. Mammoth...that's another story for another day. And it won't be public.

In high school we both came to know the Lord. As always, it was separate from each other and very different. We went off to different colleges, but kept in touch pretty well. I only stayed in Illinois 1 semester, and then came home and went to Master's. The next September Amy joined me there, and became my roommate.

Friendship wise, those years were both good and turbulent. Our differences became more apparent as we tried to live together, and our opposite personalities clashed at times. It went beyond her being an early morning person and me being a night owl, and there was some tension at times.  I regret a lot from that year, times I hurt her and left her out, times I disappointed her, and times I said things I should not have or did not say things I should have. But we also learned a lot. As growing Christians we did our first confrontations, and we both handled them really well. That was a huge factor in our growth and friendship, as we learned that we could tell each other, "Hey, you are messing up," and still love each other when it's over.  There were also a lot of laughs that year as roomies--particularly Amy playing soccer with me and looking like a dancer on the soccer field, and me going to aerobics with her and looking like, well a soccer player trying to dance! And we always sat together in chapel, learning together about God's Word and singing, as usual, loud and off-key.

When I got engaged to Daniel there was no doubt who would stand next to me. Having no biological sister, I chose the sister of my heart. A year later at her beautiful wedding I had the great honor of standing up next to her. It was so fitting, that we who had been through so much together stood in the place of a sister, as sisters in the Lord and truly as maids of honor. That is a privilege I will never forget. 

Fast forward almost 9 years and 7 kids between the two of us. We have made a point to talk to and see each other, meet each other's babies, but the last year or 2 it has just been so hard. Amy took the reins and invited herself out here *giggle* and we spent an entire day together, with our combined 7 children. As though no time had passed, we talked and laughed the day away. Looking back on yesterday I see that there were several times when Amy commented that I was laughing  at her.  Amy, nothing is further from the truth. Those inappropriate times I was laughing was a result of the realization that though we still are different, those same things we struggled with, battled, and desired all those years ago bind us now. I can still tell you anything without fear of judgement, we can talk about chubs  and find ourselves, as usual, in the same boat, and we can celebrate our children's unique giftings without needing to pretend we are perfect parents with perfect children. I laughed because you often seemed to be describing my life, not yours. You encouraged me, shared the good, the bad, and the ugly, and being with you and your 4 little gifts was relaxing and amazing. Except maybe for dinner...when we each got up after each bite of food...but that comes with the territory.

Amy's 4 kids are beyond description. It is obvious that she and Devin have raised them with love, consistency, laughter, fun, boundaries and respect. They are a TON of fun, and well behaved all at the same time. 

This is Geneva, who is two and a half. She is a doll: sweet, charming, loving, giving, snuggly, and beautiful. My two girls adored her and I could not pick only one picture.

Jonathan, who is 4.5, captured my heart. He is ALL boy, and I mean ALL boy, and yet has a tenderness and a sensitivity. Amy said a couple times that God has a unique place for him. I said, "Yes, and for the next 6 years that place is in your line of sight at all times." Safety and Caution do not reign in his life, adventure, excitement and daring do. But he loves people, takes care of others, and has life surrounding him. Amy said she sees him in a service role that involves danger, like a fireman, a missionary in a dangerous place, or a soldier. I agree, and think he will change the world he lives in.

Aiden, 6, her first born, reminds me of Mckenna. He loves to have fun and play, but has an internal sense of right and wrong and limits. He loves boy things too, but I could tell he is able to sit and learn and he is probably a big help. His mind is amazingly mechanical, and he transformed Optimus Prime like it was child's play. I can't do it. It's not simple, okay, it's very hard! He is a wonderful boy, and played with all the kids so well. 

God had a plan for this sweet girl, Abby. When He blessed Amy and Devin with a 4th child, He gave them a sweet, easy-going, mellow, content darling of a girl. She is truly the easiest baby I have ever seen--now if she would just walk, right Amy?

And here Amy and I are, with our bushel of kids. Told you she's the pretty one.


Cassandra Rollins said...

Reading your blog was so sweet. It is amazing how God does orchestrate such great friendships for us and allows us to love another person and enjoy them. Maybe this is what heaven is going to be like...just going around and chatting it up with old friends.

Amy Smith said...

Carlee, that was a beautiful tribute. You are a treasure and so is your family. Thank you for walking all those miles with me! God gave me a sister when he gave me you. Love you, girl!

The Murphy Family said...

I had no idea you guys have known eachother for so long! What great memeories and I cracked up at the picture of all your kids... they do have their unique personalities. What, you couldn't get them to all look at the camera and smile at the same time??!! LOL!