There’s an old saying that grass doesn’t grow on the path between friends’ homes or something like that.
I couldn’t find the exact quote but somewhere in the recesses of my memory, those words exist. The nearest I could come to verifying that saying was a Native American proverb: “Don’t allow the grass to grow on the path of friendship.”
When I think about those words, one of my best and dearest friends comes to my mind.
Leigh and I have been friends for over 50 years. Her parents built their house next-door to my folks when we were children and Leigh and I quickly became playmates.
We played together almost every day immersing ourselves in Barbies, playing house, running a pretend restaurant, whatever our imagination could conjure up. And most of the time, weather permitting, we played outside dragging our toys back and forth between our two houses.
We also rode our bikes down our country road, played secret agent with her brother, and spent countless hours in the winter time sled-riding and building snow forts.
As young girls, we explored, we dreamed of the future, we swooned over The Monkeees, and we planned magical days that we were sure we’d experience sometime (our weddings). It’s what little girls did back then.
After Leigh’s parents installed an in-ground swimming pool, most of our summer days were consumed there, tanning, swimming, and listening to the radio. Our friendship was forged by all the time we spent together, year after year.
Leigh’s home became my second home; mine was hers. The acre-sized yard that separated my house from hers was our path to friendship. When we stayed up late into the night talking, one of us would race across that yard between our houses to the safety of home.
Since we lived in the country, we always worried about crossing paths with skunks or some other wild animal and that expanse of grass that separated our homes was encased in darkness, which proved to be a bit scary. So either she would stand on her back yard porch and watch me scamper home or I would stand on the sidewalk in between our house and garage and watch her go.
That grassy yard was the only thing that separated us in those years. Leigh and I shared secrets, dreams, anxieties, disappointments, hurts, and every emotion that young girls experience. We trusted one another with confidences we wouldn’t share with others.
As young adults, we were in each other’s dream weddings, but our marriages took us away from our childhood homes. As adults, we rejoiced together over the birth of our children, shared stories of motherhood, watched our children become adults, and finally commiserated over the empty nest – all from afar by phone calls and occasional visits as we no longer lived beside one another.
We’ve been friends through thick and thin, even though we haven’t lived side by side for over 40 years now. More than a grassy yard separated us as adults. I lived in far-away places for 20 years. Leigh lived in another state too for a time and then, many years ago, settled with her husband in a town a good distance away from our hometown.
But miles have never separated our hearts. A year ago, Leigh had a major terrifying health problem and I thought I would lose one of my best friends. Miraculously, God intervened and saved her. Prayers for her were answered and today she is doing well considering all that she went through.
It had been a few months since we talked and one recent Sunday evening, I dialed her cell phone number. I hadn’t even realized that it was exactly one year to the day that she almost left this life until she mentioned it. And we marveled over how occurrences lined up perfectly to spare her life that day.
We talked. And we talked. And we talked. Just like those late night conversations we had as young girls. We talked for almost four hours straight, until our cell phone batteries began waning and we had to find our phone chargers.
That’s what kind of friendship we have. Not only does grass not grow on our path of friendship, but miles and time and even cell phone batteries don’t keep us apart.
Conversing with Leigh is always like those late nights all those years ago when we lived side by side. This long-enduring friendship crosses that grassy yard once again and I am so grateful for that path that never grows closed.
“A friend is one in whom we can confide. The secret chambers of our soul open to his touch on the latch.” ~ J.E. Dinger