This is a friendship that has weathered 20 years of change; we had a period in our early twenties when our relationship was strained, and we keenly felt the absence of the other.
Now we live on opposite sides of the country. I teach the ABC's to Kindergarten children, she teaches writing to University students. She lives in Vancouver, I live on an Ontario farm. But now and then she comes home to visit her parents, and that's when we join together for wine and late-night sessions of catching up.
This woman's face is so familiar to me. We both have our share of grey hairs now, and our eyes are lined with the tears, sleepless nights, and years that have lined our friendship. But I know that when I am ready to say goodbye to this world, her name will count among the most precious in my life.
We spent a few days together a couple of weeks ago, and watched a friendship blossom between our two four-year girls. Gillian loved Jude's pictures, I loved giving her older daughter cooking tips.
A song came into my mind, one I wrote out in a letter to her during that long ago time when words didn't come easy to us; I was living in Ireland, and the lyrics said more than I could.
If you will keep my heart for me in the quiet of your Texas plains,
Oh my old friend, will you shelter me from pain? Then I would bring you Ireland.
And I'll reclaim my heart one day; we'll sit and watch our children play,
And I will sing you lullabies from the Emerald Isle for back porch days,
Oh, my old friend; we will always meet again, and I would bring you Ireland".
Gillian's presence in my life is one of those gifts I sometimes take for granted, because it's just always been there. She's the woman who knows about the jerks I shouldn't have dated, the princes I shouldn't have let go, the moments of vulnerability and awkwardness, my imperfections and secret beauties. She knew me before I was a woman, and loved me then as she loves me now. Her friendship is one of those blessings with which my life overflows: the gift of someone who sees me, and loves me all the same.