... in the warmth of true friendship
I was among long time friends last night, college buddies from 30 years ago. We were a tight group back then. When we were not asleep in our own beds, you can bet we would be running around somewhere - together.
We remained solid friends through the years as we all got married, had children of our own, established succesful careers and built independent lives. But with our busy schedules and the relatively far distances between our homes, we really don't get to hang out anymore as much as we'd like to. We'd be lucky to get everyone in one place once a year, maybe twice a year.
And last night was one of those rare moments. It was the birthday party for Ina, Ray F's wife of 23 years. Ray D and Mari (we've known each other since 5th grade!) were also there with their individual spouses - both of whom we've known since were all in college. And I came with the love of my life.
Something magical always happens when we get together. The same stories from 32 years ago get thrown back and forth and we all laugh at them as hard as we did the first time we shared them many years ago. Everyone gets into it. All the years spent away from each other seem to disappear. It's as if 32 years ago was just last week.
I know these guys better than I know my own brothers. I am so blessed to have them as my true friends. For 32 years, these guys have been like family and they will always remain to be so.
As we were saying our goodbyes, wishing each other well and wondering when we would get together again as one group, that's when I felt His presence. I felt God as we warmly hugged and patted each other in the back. I felt God in the tightness of the lingering handshakes. I felt God in the neverending farewells that started inside the house and was still going as we stood curbside.
God was there last night. As we turned our backs to walk to my car, I just knew that God was there, making everything whole once more. Friends for life - blessed by God.
-- Wally Arida
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