When I was six years old I met a little girl who would be one of my closest friends growing up. We played, we fought, we were like sisters.
Even after I moved away in junior high, our strong bond kept us in contact through letters and even the occasional visit. We did this all through college and after; she was in my wedding and at my first baby shower.
Then life intervened, got busier, and we both moved around a fair amount. We lost contact. We reconnected seven years ago, right before 9/11, and were both equally thrilled. We discovered we both worked for a district attorney's office, she had just given birth to her first boy - I was yet to be pregnant with mine. Then, still in the Air Force, we moved again, and when I tried to contact her she was no longer at her numbers. She had moved, too, and to where I had no idea.
This past Christmas while sorting through the decorations to be set up I found the last letter from my friend. I read it and started crying. How was it that someone who literally played a hand in the shaping of my young self could just be gone? I showed my girls the letter and some pictures and told them how important it is to keep dear friends close. As I get older, I am increasingly grateful for the precious gift of friendship my girlfriends give me.
I've thought about her a lot over the holidays.
Yesterday, my sister emailed me with a message she had received on her cell phone. My old friend had found her number and was trying to find me. I was stunned. But it gets even better.
I called my old friend, ecstatic at the prospect of reconnecting, and told her everything I'm telling you now. She was quiet for a moment. She told me that she had been thinking of me over the years and wished we hadn't lost contact. But then, around Christmas, that feeling got stronger. She cleaned out a basket on top of her refrigerator and an old business card of mine from the DA's office fell out. She thought it might be a sign she should look for me again.
Later, she took her boys for a walk at the waterfront park in the town where I moved to in junior high. Unbeknownst to me, she now lives very close to this town. The sidewalk of this park is paved with thousands and thousands of bricks, each depicting a name of people who have sponsored a little bit of the cost of building the park. At one point my friend looked down and noticed she was standing on a brick bearing my daughter's names.
She wondered if someone was trying to tell her something.
Finally, on business, she was in the lobby of a large building and was admiring some elaborately decorated Christmas trees. One in particular caught her eye, and next to the tree was a small placard indicating that the tree had been decorated and donated by my mom.
She decided she had to find me.
All the while, I was thinking of her.
Coincidence? Fate? God? What do you think? I've had chills since yesterday afternoon.