Without reservation, I will firmly state that my wife, Joyce, is my best friend in the truest sense of the term. For 32 of my 60 years on this Earth, we have made life's journey hand-in-hand through all the peaks and pitfalls along the way. She is the one person I can trust when it seems like everyone else has turned his or her back on me.
However the term “best friend,” like the word “love” takes on a wide variety of meanings in our sometimes-limited vocabulary. Frequently, we find ourselves saying we “love” ice cream or pizza, sports, or a favorite TV show. There is our love for our fellow humans, our love for God, country and mom and dad.
The word “true” is sometimes put in front of love when referring to romantic feelings or emotions. Most people remember their first love though it was probably just a crush and had little or no personal involvement.
I would like to address “best friend” from a slightly different perspective. Over the years I have had more than my fair share of best buddies. I think I had a new one almost every year of my school days. Most of the time, the relationship was based on common interests.
With some friends I played cowboys, others Army. There were those of us who shared the love of comic books and baseball cards or horror movies. But as the Bible states, “There is a friend that is closer than a brother.”
I was indeed fortunate to have one of those friends – only in my case it was a sister. There was 18 months difference in our ages but we did almost everything together growing up. Some people even thought we were twins because she was tall for her age.
We were always at each other's house, depending on what we wanted to do that day. During our pre-school years, we would take turns playing cowboys or Batman and Superman. Sometimes we went to her house and played with her large collection of dolls. At 60, I am too old to be ashamed to admit that I played with dolls, it was called sharing and taking turns.
Of course, we had some knock down, drag out fights alone the way. Life simply has its share of bumps in the road along the way. Despite our age difference, we continued sharing time together throughout grade school, though she began to associate with young girls of her age and I began to buddy around with the guys in my class.
Still, we shared vacation time together. Her mom took on some wonderful trips to The Great Smokey Mountains, Six-Flags Over Texas and several others. In fact, if it weren't for her mom I wouldn't have seen much outside the boundaries of Mississippi County, Arkansas.
Page 2 of 2 - We attended Harding (University) College together. It was like taking a part of home with me to college. With her encouragement, my grades began to rise and I somehow managed to survive those four years sandwiched between adolescence and official adulthood.
Over the years, we shared our deepest, darkest secrets and our hopes and dreams for the future. Though she achieved marital status before I did, I was the first to become a parent and was blessed to be able to share my children with her. There was a time that I wasn't sure that she would become a mother, but she eventually did.
So, how do you say goodbye to your best friend?
In 1993, at the age of 39, she lost her battle with cancer, leaving her precious five-month old daughter. There's not a day goes by that I don't think about her or dream about her.
Whenever my daughter, Christina, talks about her childhood memories I realize you don't really ever say goodbye. Friendship is something that you keep in your heart forever.