• Carmen Milligan

Friends sent by the cosmos

Updated: Apr 26, 2021

I have often called myself an "in-and-outer" when it comes to friendships. Actually, I think most friendships are that way. You fall into an easy friendship with someone at a particular time, that time passes, and you drift apart. In and out.

A great example of this would be the wonderful friends I made when I was the Moppet Coordinator for a MOPS group in Pennsylvania. It was a group of women who, each week, hosted mothers of preschoolers (MOPS) in a local church for a time of learning from one another, talking to others moms, getting support and encouragement, and a short "lesson" from an older woman who had been-there-and-done-that. During this time, I arranged for the childcare, complete with a Bible activity/craft, and playtime with others their ages. It was a very important time in my life, and when I crossed paths with these other women leaders of the group, I found wonderful friendships. When that moment in my life was over, so were the friendships. I still look back on those days with gratefulness at that sweet little group.

And then, there are those friends who enter your life like they were sent by a flare gun. I have had only one of those friendships, Deanne. During the last day of preschool, a group of moms decided to go to the local McDonald's and let the kids play in the ball pit. I know, I know, but it was the late 1990s, and we didn't yet know how disgustingly gross those things were.

We learned that day, though. Jack had a cast on his arm from a hairline fracture, and during his romping in the ball pit, he came into contact with poop. Yep. Poop. Feces. Excrement. And you can't clean that off a cast. I had to take him to the doctor and have it replaced. I had three preschoolers, and one of them had a shitty cast. Literally. Enter Deanne. I knew her from preschool, but I didn't KNOW her. She offered to take Strat and Chase to her home while I ran Jack around, and I couldn't have been more relieved.

Thank goodness she wasn't a serial killer.

She swooped into my life, and has been in it ever since. Her son, Riley, and my three are still great friends. She has been with me through the highs and lows of motherhood, marriage, divorce, job changes, moving, and everything in between. She has never demanded anytime of me, nor I of her. We just know that we will always have one another. I believe it's a friendship that not many humans will experience.

And then, when I least expected it, I got another kind of friend. This is still a new friendship, and I am curious and excited to see what it's going to look like. Her name is Fran, and I work with her. She is in another state, but has family close to me, so we had the chance to meet over lunch during one of her visits.

Let me tell you about Fran. She is a tiny wisp of a woman. So petite in body, but huge in personality. She is a cancer survivor, a mother to two grown sons, a new grandmother, an Army veteran, an artist, outdoorsy, and tattooed. She joined the team after I did, and she came in all sunshine and rainbows. I thought, "Oh, god. One of those." Too perky for her own good. Too optimistic to see that it is NOT always going to work out for the best. And she was sprinkling that attitude all over the place, like a fairy dancing in the woods with hands full of pixie dust.

But then something really cosmic happened. Over Christmas we were chatting over IM about something, and she asked me my favorite Christmas song. Or maybe I asked her. I can't remember. Anyway, I told her that my favorite Christmas song is "Oh Holy Night". I love the sentiment that the world is aching and in pain, and so very weary, but Jesus is born, and the soul finally feels its worth. That is such a beautiful picture of what Christianity should be.

I realized later that day that I had not checked the mail in a couple of days, and I went out to get it. Inside the box, that same day that Fran and I had talked about Christmas songs, there was a card from her. The front of the card read, "A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices." I just could not believe it. Inside was printed the three verses to "Oh Holy Night", with the sentiment from Fran on the other side.

Can you even?

In the months since then, I have gotten to know Fran a bit more, and I can tell you that she is NOT "one of those". She is beautifully unique. She is cautiously optimistic, but not blind to the realities of life. She greets her days with optimism and a good attitude because that's what she chooses to do, how she handles what is tossed her way, and that is her business. She is witty, encouraging, always ready to help. She even gave me one of the best birthday gifts I have ever received. Read about it here.

As I lovingly reflect on past friendships, stay cozy in a lifelong friendship with Deanne, and see what unfolds with my cosmic friend Fran, I will continue to greet each and every friendship with the unique perspective that they all deserve. And my life is so much richer for it.

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