I Celebrated My Best Friend’s 50th Birthday This Weekend
During our years of partying and dating and marriage and having kids, we got older and wiser — and luckier to have each other
I was listening to the John Lennon song, Nobody Told Me, and thinking the lyrics never felt truer than they do today. Nobody told me there would be days like these…days where I didn’t know if I felt happy or sad or angry or at peace. Days where there was so much to celebrate and so much to mourn, all at the same time.
This weekend, I celebrated my best friend’s 50th birthday. She has been my best friend since we were 18 years old. She introduced me to my husband. We timed all three of our pregnancies together (more or less) and our kids are all born within a few months of each other. I called her as I was driving to see my mom in hospice. When they called me and told me that if I wanted to be there for my mom’s passing, I’d better come now, I jumped into my car with shaking hands.
I called my best friend and said, “Talk to me. This is it.” So she talked to me. I have no idea what she said. I don’t remember a single word of our conversation. I know I heard her voice coming through the car speaker. I know I drove on the 101 freeway from Studio City to Encino. I know I told her, “I’m here now,” and “Thank you,” and then hung up and ran to my mom’s door.
I am sure my best friend said supportive things, maybe something about being strong, or how she loved my mother, or that she was there for me. I don’t know. I just know her voice soothed me as I gripped the steering wheel and drove to see my mom for the last time.
Last night, I sat at a socially-distanced table with my husband to celebrate her. When it came time to make a toast, it was hard for me to form the words of what her friendship means to me. We have been together through marriage and miscarriage, health crises and the drama of raising six kids, losing our fathers and the recent loss of my mom. We have lost some of our dreams along the way. We have birthed new dreams as we have gotten older.
We are fifty, she and I. We have lived some life — maybe more life than either one of us bargained for by the time we were fifty. I look at her and remember fraternity parties and cocktails in our apartment. I remember camping trips and date parties and weekends away and our years together in New York City. She worked at the World Trade tower and I worked at the Department of Health across the street. We got salads several times a week in the lobby of the Trade Center and sat outside in the plaza to eat.
Nobody told me there would be days like these. Days of terror and days of rebuilding. Days of pandemics and fiftieth birthdays and miscarriages and menopause and kids going to college and kids struggling and dads dying and moms dying, too, and new dreams being born at midlife, new dreams that feel like the soul calling. Strange days, indeed.
As I stood on her beautiful patio last night, candles aglow, looking at the gorgeous faces of her daughters and husband, her mother, and her aunt, amidst a beautiful catered meal and a gluten-free, dairy-free cake, I toasted my best friend. But the words seemed to stick in my throat. We are fifty now. Between all those years of partying and dating and marriage and child-rearing and cooking and driving and going to Trader Joe’s, we got older — and wiser and luckier, so much luckier to have each other and to have been friends since we were eighteen years old.