Dear Extra-Special, Lovely, Sweet, Beautiful, Longest Friend I’ve Ever Had:
Guess what? Today is your eighteenth birthday! YAY!
I know what you’re saying now. I can see your eyes roll and lips form a slight smile. “Liz, of course I know that! It is my birthday!”
“Oh yeah,” I reply and we both chuckle a bit. That’s the kind of friends we are — we like to share a lot of laughs.
But guess what else, Friend? Next month I’ll be eighteen, too. And you know what that means, right? Yup. We’ll officially turn eighteen in our friendship.
It’s not just a number, though I would say it is a pretty impressive one. You’re the only person I’ve known for eighteen years except maybe my parents and older relatives. And no offense, since you’re now eighteen and I’m still seventeen, but eighteen seems really old right now. So, it’s been a while.
The point is that knowing someone for eighteen years on your eighteenth birthday means you’ve spent a lot of time together. Even though we live a few hours away, we’ve definitely done quite a bit throughout our lives. We lay side by side in baby carseats and fought over a teething toy at my baptism. I remember brushing our teeth together at two-years-old — I was jealous because your mom dressed you in a frilly, flower nightgown and I only got to wear my diaper. Soon, siblings came along and it wasn’t just the two of us, but I think we had even more fun. At five, we liked playing train and baby dolls and having water tea parties. By age ten, our visits with each other were turning ridiculous on account of me — tying up chickens, almost accidentally suffocating the sheep, playing silly war games in the backyard, and going on a grand parade with all of the animals — but thankfully, I had you to keep all of us from going completely crazy. Wow, that’s a lot of beautiful memories right there, isn’t it?
As we grew to be teenagers, our friendship and lives changed from simple tea parties and chicken/sheep parades. Although we’d both accepted Jesus at young ages, we came to know Him better and see faith and morality in a new light. We were both convicted of matters and began to feel strongly about them. But our new morals and values weren’t all the same and at thirteen, that was pretty shocking to both of us.
At sixteen, something earth-shattering happened. Okay, it wasn’t exactly earth-shattering, but we thought so, didn’t we, Kale? I’m not going to explain the situation here, but you know as well as I do what happened. We disagreed. And we were both very stubborn. Looking back, I think we would have gone our seperate ways if God hadn’t intervened and just plain old taken the thing we disagreed about away.
But we got past that, among other things. We learned to “agree to disagree” and reconciled. And I felt closer to you after that. Our friendship was strengthened and I hope you’ll agree that we became the better for it.
I love you, Kale. I’ve learned so much from loving you, my Friend. We still don’t see eye to eye on things and our paths for the future look very different. But I’m glad. Because I don’t like cookie-cutter friendships. I want a relationship that is real and growing — and that is what I have with you. I’ve learned to love someone not because they are the same as I am, but because they can look past differences and remain in friendship. And so even though we’re different, I have a feeling that we’ll really be friends forever as we used to say in all those letters.
Wouldn’t it be fun if we have kids at the same time? Just think… in eighteen years, we could both have daughters writing letters and learning from each other as we did.
Have a wonderful birthday, Kale!
Your forever friend,