In June of this year, we bought a new contemporary home near Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania, designed by an architect with an eye for clean lines.
It looks as inviting as our beach cottage just outside Stone Harbor. I felt gifted and could not wait to invite our first guest to stay overnight.
Truth be told, our granddaughters already christened the fresh sheets on their rooms' queen beds, but no adult, other than John and I, were delighted by the blue sky and to-die-for green grass that came with our new home.
Because I talk to two close friends weekly, deciding who to invite for an overnight visit was easy. The other regular phone pal lived close enough that she already visited and admired our new home.
To my surprise and delight, I started a recent weekly phone call with Martha by asking her for ideas for carpeting in fresh pale grey rooms. She and I decided to treat the rugs as if they were invisible because they are so boring that they nearly disappear.
“Would ya’ like to come and see our new home and stay for as many days as work for you?" I asked. Before I could get groceries, Martha was on her way, driving five hours solo to visit John and I with our two dogs for as long as she wanted. After all, she had her own bathroom and a bedroom with a daybed and pillows to enjoy reading.
Of course, she had free reign in the kitchen for snacks. Add two delighted, cuddly anti-allergic Portuguese water dogs, and she was set up for a happy stay, and a happy stay we enjoyed.
We caught up on old times, drove to Stone Harbor from our new home, in Haddonfield, then visited our beach home in town for the clear sunlight on a fall beach.
It was wonderful to pick up where we left off, but I wondered, “What is so special about reuniting with friends of decades past? Would I still be as fond of her today as I was years ago?"
After six hours behind the wheel, she arrived ready for a cup of tea. When she arrived, I questioned if we could recapture the trust we previously built, and we did. The power of the days we spent together reflected the energy between us. I have more time daily than in decades, and Martha was trying to finish a blanket for a baby due any time now.
Seeing Martha hour after hour for many days cemented our relationship to its earlier level of delight and trust. Meeting in person elevated our visit.
We laughed about stories of old times, shared private information, and asked each other for help we each face. Knowing our confidentiality was secure made the difference and enabled us to admit some of the challenges faced over the years.
In the last quarter of a century, each of us lost husbands under the age of 50. Of course, we ensured that we were there for each other when tragedies affect each of us.
Martha only visited for five days, but she wants to return and has asked me to visit her. After all, we knew each other’s parents, all of whom are no longer with us, and how many people can we count that we have known since early adulthood three decades ago?
My experience reminded me that friends, like Martha, become increasingly precious with each decade. Have we each changed? Yes, at least a bit, but, in many ways, we remain as we were, and we still love each other deeply.”
To Consider: When is the last time you reached out to suggest an in-person visit? Might it be worthwhile? If you ask me, the answer is an unqualified, "You betcha."
ED. NOTE: Dr. Coche formerly practiced clinical psychology in Stone Harbor and Philadelphia. She invites responses through her website, www.cochecenter.com.