The boys had their first friends sleep over our house this weekend and it was a blast . They stayed up late, ate many snacks, and talked in loud whispers and giggles when they were supposed to be sleeping. Lying in my own bed listening to them, a huge smile spread across my face. It was a perfect moment.
I remember the joy of sleepovers as a kid and that feeling of special camraderie. There is just something about laughing and sharing secrets in the long hours of the night and then waking up and realizing your friend is right there to carry on with.
One of my very best friends from those early years, those years when you are figuring out who your people are, who laughs at the same stuff you do, who likes the same movies and sports and snacks, who lets you pick what to do next or make up the rules to the next game, was Jen. We were inseparable and enjoyed many long summer days in the woods behind her house or swimming in her pool. Her parents would let us go night swimming and camp in the living room. Many of my favorite memories from that time of my life were of making up silly games with her that would last day and night, whispering conspiratorially in the kitchen while grabbing a midnight snack and waking up to my best friend and planning what to do with the time we had left.
I worry sometimes that my boys won’t find that closeness with a BFF since they rely on one another so much. I have been so lucky over the years to make and keep friendships I have had since I was in grade school and even before that with friends from my neighborhood. I love to watch as my boys make friends and wonder if they will be lifelong connections or just seasonal pals.
Even though Jen and I went to different middle schools we stayed close. Drifting apart when I went cross country for college and a disagreement that hung between us caused an even greater distance. This before Facebook and social media made it so easy to keep in touch or find someone from whom you’d been separated by time and distance. Tragically, her life was ended too soon and it has always been one of my greatest regrets that I hadn’t had one more time to laugh and play with her, to let her know how much she meant to me and how insignificant our disagreement was in the grand scheme of things. She was the first friend that really chose me, that really staked me out as her BFF. She was the prettiest, most fun, most athletic, most creative…and I was her favorite partner in crime.
When I listen to the boys with their friends I am reminded of those times with Jen. I think about her fairly often and wonder who she would have become. I imagine her voice from time to time giving me advice, nudging me to make decisions, encouraging me to laugh more. I pray that each of my boys will know a friend like that. Someone who makes them feel special, someone who appreciates all their quirks, someone to pass all the seasons with. Someone whose friendship grows with every game and laugh and sleepover.