Over the years, and there have been plenty of them, I have developed a group of lifelong friends—best friends for that matter.
I have known Abby since we were age four and in Nursery School together. Although we live thousands of miles apart, we still love each other the way friends should.
Our only issue is that we are very divergent when it comes to politics so you can just imagine what the past year has been like for us. Yet, we talk about other things on the phone and email and skip the superficial issues that divide others.
Alice—also known as Ali to me—has been a best friend since our children met in grade school and played at each other’s homes. Ali and I worked at doing errands together, shopped for almost everything and lunched at our favorite diner while we figured out life.
My love for her is mixed with concern. She is a type two diabetic and still drinks Coke, the old fashioned way—with sugar. She also has a passion for ice cream and cannot seem to get enough.
This worries me because I fear what may happen to her as a result yet I cannot burden her with diatribes. I just pray that somehow, she’ll take better care of her health and live alongside me for many years more, even though she also lives a thousand miles away and only visits the area where we lived when she comes north to see her children.
But most of all, my friendship with Mary also known as Maura to her Irish relatives, is currently like the sister I never had. She was born in Ireland and came here without her family to live in the states for a better life. You see, her parents lived in County Clare and were subsistence farmers. Yet, they managed to send several of their children to New York to live with relatives who had made the journey sometime before she did and created their own businesses.
Mary finished high school in Yonkers after she arrived and went to cosmetology school thereafter to build a living for herself. She also worked at a second job to make enough money to pay rent and other necessities.
At age nineteen, she met the love of her life and married him against the wishes of the her family because he was considerably older than she was. But the marriage didn’t just endure; it thrived and produced four marvelous children.
At this point in our lives, I am married to the love of my life, as well, and she is a widow. But we spend many days of the week together because we have our personalities in common. There’s no way to explain it, but we see eye to eye about almost everything and we share knowledge of different things with each other all the time. One of the things I treasure the most is her insight. I often ask for advice and her answers are those I need, sometimes more than I want. But that’s why she’s a best friend.
On New Years Eve, we toasted each other with Bailey’s Irish Cream. She raised her glass and said, “Sláinte,” and I replied, “L’Chaim.” That didn’t matter to us in whatever language our tribute was offered. In tandem, the words were said with love and hope for each other’s happy days ahead.
Happy New Year, Abby. Ali and Mary: Best friends forever!