Last Tuesday I found out that my life long best friend's grandfather passed away. My first instinct and response was to reach for the phone. Without thinking, I flipped open my cell, scrolled to the J's automatically hitting the down button to her number and pressing the send call button. While the phone rang visions of the two of us with her grandfather flashed before me -- us at the lake, spending time talking to other fishermen at the dam, vacations to Middle Bass, Sunday family dinners, sharing wine and dessert. Her grandfather may not have been my biological grandfather, but in every other way he was. I have over two decades of memories proving such. When her voice mail picked up I cried into the phone, telling her how sorry I was and that I was here when she needed me. It didn't matter that I haven't spoken to her in almost five months. It didn't matter that we had only exchanged a few text message here or there, like when her uncle had surgery. It didn't matter that the last time I had spoken to her we didn't end on great terms. All that mattered was that I knew her heart was breaking and I needed to be there for her, we needed to be there for each other.
When I walked into the funeral home for the viewing, she was the first person I saw. There were no words that needed to be spoken, we simply walked toward each other and embraced. Crying both for grandpap and our friendship. During the course of the evening we briefly caught up on life over the past five months -- just skimming the surface. The next day during the funeral service the minister recited a verse that took us back to our childhood and teenage years. Through our tears we exchanged a look and a smile, a private joke between the two of us. When she stood up to read a poem about a grandfather and all he wished to pass on to his grandchildren, I lost it. How she made it through I don't know. For two days it was as if we had easily slipped back into our effortless friendship. The awkwardness, trying to figure out what to say, how to act -- all of that was gone. At the end of the second day as I was walking out the door we hugged, both of us whispering "I miss you." She grasped my hand and said "Thank you. For everything." Another hug and we went our separate ways again.
I don't know where this leaves our friendship. Our lives are so intertwined we will always be a part of each others families. Things will probably never get back to where they were and that's ok. None of it really matters. All that really matters, in the end, is that when the really tough stuff happens we'll be there for each other. That is the one thing, the only thing that has never changed.