As the car came to a stop on the path beside the tiny casket holding our premature baby Luke, I briefly scanned the crowd of people waiting for our arrival. The moment I saw them, tears filled my eyes and my heart felt comforted knowing they came to be with us.
The comfort I felt in seeing them caused me to consider the formation of this deep and meaningful friendship.
In the early years of our marriage, my husband Don, and his best friend Mike, met every Monday morning to pray and plan activities, events and meetings for ministry to the college students in our town. Mike’s wife, Cherie and I were both new mothers in our group of college friends. We were some of the first to have children, and were in the minority of “daring to nurse” our babies instead of bottle feeding them. We desperately needed each other. Something we came to realize later.
While the guys met, we gathered up our new infants and spent the morning together, talking, laughing, nursing our babies and praying for the college students under our care. We never cared if our carpets had been vacuumed or our toilets cleaned. This set-aside time became a life line we both needed and enjoyed.
One of the first times we met, it seemed as if the entire morning flew by. Suddenly we realized our guys would soon be heading home for lunch to their respective homes. We hastily decided to make lunch together.
We scrambled into Cherie’s kitchen where we discovered an almost bare cupboard except for some canned Tomato Soup and the ingredients needed to make Grilled Cheese Sandwiches. I grabbed the sandwich fixings, she pulled out the can opener and we feverishly pulled the meal together.
Happily, we called our men, and told them a “light” lunch was ready for them. They arrived jovial and hungry, but still working on details and ideas for college ministries. We sat down together, prayed a blessing for the meal and enjoyed a lively conversation. After lunch, Cherie and I giggled, knowing the guys never suspected we simply threw it together!
None of us remember exactly when we began to make it our Monday tradition to eat Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese Sandwiches around our tables, but we do remember the fruit it bore. Our friendship grew and we found our lives intertwined like a grapevine wreath. We babysat for each other, borrowed recipe ingredients, helped clean each others’ homes, trekked into the forest to chop down our Christmas trees together, and brought meals over when one of us was sick or when we each had our second child. All these acts flowed from a place of vulnerability and authenticity with each other.
In today’s vernacular, we would say,
“We did life together”.
It expanded us to move beyond our private, independent living, while knitting our hearts and our every day lives to one another.
A few years later Don & I moved away and our relationship with Mike and Cherie became one of long distance phone calls and trips to visit each other. Our friendship hit some difficulty after we moved, but we worked our way through it and became even better friends.
On that cold March afternoon, as we arrived to lay our baby boy to rest, the sight of Mike and Cherie amongst the small crowd of friends and family, dispelled some of our grief and placed a blanket of peace over our hearts. Embracing them after the service, our tears mingled on each others cheeks. Love flowed between us, as together we sensed the comfort and familiarity of what our “grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup Mondays” had built between us.
Do you have friends like this in your life? I’d love to hear your stories.