April 2022 Featured Article
The three friends in my Women of Rock Creek series—Ella, Lily, and Addie—illustrate my concept of Forever Friends. Lifelong. Strong and enduring. Faithful and true. Empathetic and selfless.
Those words describe my own Forever Friend. Let me tell you about her.
Recently my Forever Friend—Eloise Gillenwater Brown—and I enjoyed a mini-reunion of sorts. Just the 2 of us. Neither of us resembles our former selves in much of any way. Our shoulders are stooped. Toes and fingers are gnarled and bent. Once-blonde and -brunette hair is now gray. Once-upon-a-time complexions have dimmed. And—oh—the lines, sags, and bulges.
Eloise and I were born two hours apart on the same day—September 5, 1946. Soon, we’ll celebrate 76 years of life together. That’s a lot of memories with a friend who has known me and loved me since we dressed in ruffles and petticoats.
When I claim Eloise and I are forever friends, I mean I can’t remember a time when Eloise wasn’t in my life. When I revisit old memories, invariably Eloise is a part of them, even those that involved only my family members. She and I enjoy the kind of friendship that extends as far back as our memories live and encompass all parts of our lives. Even now, when my family gathers for various holidays, I think about Eloise, and she does the same. When I’ve traveled with family or alone to professional events, I’ve thought of Eloise. And she’s the first recipient of the photos I take.
A Forever Friend Makes Sweet Memories Sweeter
I can’t count the times I’ve thought or spoken these words:
- I wish Eloise were here. She’d be amazed.
- If Eloise were here, we’d have a blast.
- Eloise would so enjoy this. We would laugh a lot.
- This experience would be richer if Eloise were with me.
- Oh. I can’t wait to tell Eloise.
- If only I could revisit Great Britain, Europe, and South America with Eloise at my side.
A Forever Friend Lightens Present Loads
- Failure or heartache? I want to tell Eloise. She’ll understand.
- If only Eloise were here, I could bear this load.
- Eloise would hug me and tell me I’m everything I yearn to be.
- Eloise wouldn’t judge me.
- And she’d defend me.
A Forever Friend Makes Bitter Memories Bearable
- Eloise more than understands. She empathizes.
- Weeps with me.
- Holds my hand.
- Lifts me.
- Absorbs my pain.
One day …
On one occasion in third grade, Eloise and I argued over a nickel. We even scuffled. And one of us emerged with a deep bite mark at the base of our neck. Selfishness and anger got in the way, but soon we shooed them off. We were reunited as forever friends before the sun set. Even today, neither of us remembers who bit whom. That’s how deep our fellowship extends—to forgetting who did what to whom. Even to one another.
My friendship with Eloise goes back forever, but it won’t last forever. One day one of us will pass into glory. At that point, only memories of our friendship will remain. If I’m the one left behind, I’ll grieve. A lot. No more knowing I have a friend who remembers as far back as I, even the emotions we experienced. Like when we made mud pies—and tried them. Rode with our fathers in their pickup trucks and waved as we passed. Swam in the bay. Explored the fields. Told ghost stories under the bed covers. Celebrated at our joint Sweet Sixteen birthday party. Shared 4-H awards. Earned drivers’ licenses. Drove her red Volkswagen. Kept the other’s secrets. Stood as one another’s maids-of-honor. Changed our babies’ diapers. And as gray-haired seniors, visit about things only we remember.
“If I could sit across the porch from God, I’d thank Him for lending me you.”
Only one Forever Friend’s friendship will last forever. He’s Jesus. He’s proven his trustworthiness. His compassion and forgiveness. He makes sweet memories sweeter, lightens my present loads, and makes bitter memories bearable. Best of all, He does so perfectly and never forgets his promises. They are perfect. They will be forever. Hallelujah!
- The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend. Exodus 33:11
- My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God. Job 16:20
- A friend loves at all times. Proverbs 17:17
- My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. John 14:3
Do you claim Jesus as your Forever Friend? If not, I pray you’ll seek Him while there is still time.
- For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
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Dear Lord, please continue to provide us with the assurance of your forever friendship.
~ For Jesus’ sake ~