“The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart.” — Elisabeth Foley
One year ago today, I quoted from a wonderful book written by my friend Ellis Anderson, whom I met at college nearly 40 years ago. Ellis and I were different in many ways, but we also had common threads that drew us together. In fact, there has always been a side of me that no one understood quite as well as she did. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say I’m not sure I could have survived college without her. Of all my friends, she was the one who was always there even when it seemed no one else was.
In college, we had discussed song lyrics and literature, and Ellis let me read her amazingly well-written personal journals. And she would play her guitar for me often, singing my blues or grouchy moods away. I learned songs from her that I still sing to myself today. We had an obnoxious habit of speaking (admittedly limited) French to each other when we wanted to share a private joke in the company of others. And we went to New York City together, and exchanged stories of our extensive travels, both of us having fathers that worked for Eastern Air Lines.
Ellis and I ended up traveling in different directions, far and wide, never living close enough geographically to see each other, and always too busy with other obligations to make plans to get together somewhere. We’d always communicated through words and writing, though, and that continued through the years. She kept alive my connection to the person I was in my youth, even through all those demanding years of child-rearing and moving all over the country, stressful times that often made me feel as if the young woman I once was had vanished forever.
Last July, business brought her to DC. She was battling a nasty respiratory infection, but we knew we would simply HAVE to get together. We had not seen each other in person for over thirty-five years! Though she was terrified that she would infect one of us with the remnants of her infection (she didn’t), I was able to twist her arm a bit and have her and her lovely niece, Anna, spend one night with us before they headed south again.
It was almost like being back in the dorm together. It was as if we had never been apart. We talked, laughed, caught up on stories we had not shared yet, and she sang and played the guitar for me as she used to do. Most wonderful of all, she was able to meet Jeff and Matt, having heard about them and seen their photos for many years. After months of sorrow, fear and exhaustion, having her visit us was like a blindingly bright flash of joy.
Ellis and her husband Larry are moving to a location a bit closer to us, so I hope to be able to see her again much more often in the years to come. Whether or not I do, though, I know we will always be friends.
Are you thinking of a special friend as you read this? I wish for you an enduring connection to those steadfast and loyal people who believe in you and bring out your best, as Ellis always has for me. It’s sometimes hard to make the effort to stay in touch, but it’s an investment that pays rich dividends.
One year ago today
This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.
- Posted in: Uncategorized
- Tagged: communication, correspondence, encouragement, friends, friendship, loyalty, memories, sharing, writing
This is such a heartwarming story of your friendship, and the photo shows two lovely women who look very relaxed with one another. I hope that you’ve been able to stay connected and even been able to spend some time together again.
Some friendships are unique in that no matter how many years go by or how far apart you are, there’s an unseen bond of memory and affection that keeps you close in your hearts. Those friendships are some of life’s rare treasures. I’m glad that you and Ellis have that kind of enduring friendship!
Hi Judy, I’m so sorry it has taken me so long to get to this comment. As crazy as it seems in a pandemic, life for me has been quite busy lately! Ellis and I have yet to get together again since then, but by sheer coincidence, just a few days before this post went live she did contact me to say that she was trying to plan a road trip that would include a visit with me. I hope so! Thanks for being here, and being so patient with my long absences from the comments section. You are ever in my thoughts. I hope to send you a photo this spring of the ferns and Pachysandra! ❤
What a lovely account of friendship! I love this!
A long-lost friend from junior high was one of the first people I looked for on facebook. Our first lunch together, after over 35 years, lasted five hours 🙂 .
Thank you Susan, and I apologize for the delay in answering this comment. I’m so glad you were able to re-connect with your friend! That’s probably the most positive feature of Facebook, with all its many down sides. I know so many who have been able to find each other again after years.
Good morning, Julia!
Yes, I do have friends that remain close despite time and distance, and I know just what you mean. Even though we’re both older and richer for our experiences, we connect as simply as we did in our youth!
Lori, a friend from college, and I met again a couple of years ago as I was traveling back to Minnesota from Massachusetts. It was so fun! We had so much to talk about, and now we stay in better touch than we did prior to that trip.
And one unexpected blessing of the pandemic has been that I’ve been going for weekly walks with my friend, Sandy, from Junior High. We sure don’t move like we did when we were thirteen, but we can definitely still chatter to each other!
Susan, how wonderful that you have a buddy for your walks during this isolated time. I hope that the pandemic will result in some permanent improvements in big and small areas, including our own diligence at keeping in touch with each other.
I also thought some of our adjustments would turn out to be improvements, including the way we communicate.
I had been hoping that one of the improvements would be a more pedestrian-friendly environment, but so far I’m not seeing any city or county efforts to that effect. I wonder how long it takes for a need to become a reality (a sidewalk out walking trail, for example)?
Susan, for some reason I’ll never understand, there are huge municipal areas that don’t consider sidewalks, streetlights or other pedestrian-friendly planning as important. They fund all sorts of other “improvements” and pet (pork barrel) projects, but in my opinion, hardly anything would simultaneously address so many social challenges as a good network of sidewalks and street lights. Alas, I’m not sure we’ll see it in our lifetimes. But we can hope.