Thursday, June 17, 2010

My Maren

The year was 1996, and we were nervously loading all of our worldly possessions into the back of a very small U-Haul truck. The Husband and I had been married two short years, but I thought of myself as a supremely experienced woman when it came to married life.

Ha. What I'd like to go back and tell my naive self if I could.

But graduate school for the Husband was in Minnesota, and so there would I be also.

I had never lived more than two hours away from my childhood home in my entire life. People I knew didn't do this. They didn't move away from friends, family, and familiar. I had no notion of what it would take to make friends in this new life of ours. Quite simply, I had never done it. The six girls I grew up with, were the six girls I went to college with. I had never really been outside of my comfort zone, and I was prepared for the worst. Planning, rather pessimistically, on spending the next three to four years with no one for company but the Husband.

Then I went to church in my new city and met these girls.

Photobucket
(my scary, huge, fat, pregnant self in pink. Maren is next to me on the right)

Married to husbands that were also poor, starving students, we instantly bonded. Widows during finals week, we kept each other company. We spent every weekend together and knew all there was to know about each other's lives. We saw each other through jobs, morning sickness, car accidents, pregnancy, childbirth, illness, and graduation.

One of these fabulous women was my Maren. Hers was the house I went to on my afternoons off to scrapbook with. Her baby was the one I played with when I was so hungry for one of my own. She was the one I traded books and recipes with. It was Maren who happily picked my mom up from the airport when she came to help with newborn baby McKay.

Quite quickly, she became my family. The sister I never had.

And a few years later, when the time came for them to pack their own moving truck and drive to St. Louis, I thought my heart would break in half. Saying goodbye to Maren and Stuart was one of the hardest things we'd ever done. We hated to see this perfect world of ours disbanded and scattered all over the country.

But, as it inevitably does, life marched on. Our own moving day came a year or so later, and we were off to start a new adventure - this time ready and experienced in starting over. Christmas cards went back and forth, and we always found joy in catching up with Maren's little family every year. Ten years passed in the blink of an eye.

Then there was a job opportunity for us in St. Louis. Our first thoughts were to call our old friends and find out everything we could about the city, the schools, and the neighborhoods. Maren, not wanting to influence us in the decision, gave objective advice without firm direction on where we should live. When we coincidentally ended up buying a home just around the block from them, both families were ecstatic.

Photobucket

It's been three and a half years since then, and I am still awestruck at the wonderful blessing that having this family in our lives has been. It's like coming home. It's having family in a city where there is none.

My kids think of her kids as cousins, and our husbands dive in enthusiastically to converse whenever we get together. I know I can call her for just about anything (and frequently have). It's as though we were only apart for a day. Instead of a decade.

Photobucket

My life is definitely richer with this family in it.

So here's to good friends - be they near, far, or just around the corner. You just never know when you're going to end up back in their lives, and they in yours.

22 comments:

3leftturns said...

Stie-

Not too many people these days know the meaning of a true friend. Thanks for putting it so beautifully. I couldn't live without Matt, Jason, Eric and their families. They really got me through some tough times.

You rock. Good luck to you and Maren!

Jaelyn said...

What a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing this! Jaelyn, St. Louis Children's Recreation Examiner: http://bit.ly/8YFKwZ

Susy said...

Very sweet post! Thanks for sharing....Reminds me of a few girls I am still friends with for over 30 something years.....

Sherry said...

Wait, I thought she was "My Maren"! And that is the most wonderful thing about Maren - she makes everyone feel so special when they are in her presence! Thanks for sharing your thoughts on such a wonderful friendship.

Tristan said...

Such a sweet story! I love good friends like that!

Gabi said...

Maren sounds like the best kind of friend! I feel like I know her, but I don't think we've ever met?!! Or have we?

My dear friend, Stacie, was one of my first mom-buddies here in PA. She was the only one I'd trust to babysit Jake when he was tiny. Turns out her husband is our new bishop in AZ. Funny how things work out, huh?

As usual, the photography is stunning. (especially pregnant you!)

jen@odbt said...

Just when I thought I was done with tears... what an amazing post and tribute to your friend. Not too many people have a Maren in their lives. What a blessing.

Lauren in GA said...

That is so, so, neat that you ended up together again!

(I just read Gabi's comment...whoa...that is so neat that she is going to be together with her friends, too!)

I love the picture. I think I had a denim and a flowered jumper almost identical to the ladies on either end of the couch.

Feeling Just Right said...

Oh Christie! I read "My" Maren and I had goose-flesh! I love love love the sound of beautiful friendships. Bless you both and bless both families :) :)

You look "absolutely" beautiful though different in that pink sweater. But I identified you. I really did. Before you said it to me.

I think those 6 faces in that small space look BEAUTIFUL. I love the look on the pretty little bespectacled baby! Beautiful eyes they all have!

I love the memories you create in your photos!

Christina B. said...

I really admire how good you are at making friends, and being a good friend. I think Maren is lucky too! :)

Annemarie said...

Amen! A good friend is a wonderful thing to have.

Travelin'Oma said...

Maren's the kind of friend I called during a tornado siren, even though I didn't know her. The pictures are so cute!!!

melissa ( : said...

Maren is my big sister - and I have to agree with you Christie... she is so wonderful!

Thanks for being her sister there in St Louis - while the rest of us are so far away.

It's fun having TWO sisters to visit in St Louis!
xoxox

Tia Juana said...

What a blessing she is to EVERYONE who knows her!!! Great post about an amazing gal!

Lala said...

Maren is my big sister, too. Ok, she's my older, little sister. She's my go-to-girl for mothering advice & roll recipes. I'm so glad you're in St. Louis to be her friend. I can't wait for my next trip to see you both!

♥Maren said...

Christie - you are way too nice to me! Thank you for the lovely tribute. It really has been incredible to be back in each others lives. Christmas cards are wonderful... you are right, you never know when you are going to be back in loved ones lives!

We love watching your children grow - to see Mack passing the sacrament, to be at baptisms, to see your sweeties at school... it really is great to have 'family' close by.

I also love how my siblings (and parents!) have totally adopted you. You are amazing and I am so grateful that the Lord knew right where we needed to be!!!

PS OK - that first picture is a bit scary! (except Stephanie is gorgeous, as always) However, LOVE the other pictures... you do have talent, sista!!!

Hollyween said...

Good girlfriends are hugely important. But good husband and wife friends? That's just... rare. It's so hard to find a good couple that you can hang out with. You guys are lucky! What great friends you have

alanna said...

I really really love Maren. Thanks for posting about their gorgeous fam. :)

Darby said...

I happen to think "our" Maren is pretty awesome as well! Love that Sister in Law of mine! What fun for you both to be close to each other.

Dalene said...

My Maren really is amazing and HER sisters are SO grateful she is willing to share CHRISTIE with us. We love you, and Maren really does love you, too.

ellen said...

I moved from LA to Boston 22 years ago having one friend and it was the best decision I've ever made. I have made hundreds of friends here and they have all enriched my life!

Annette said...

Give Maren a big hug from the Dicksons. I think it's so cool that I happened upon your blog before I realized that you and Maren are so close. Maren is my hubbies high school friend and he often wishes he could reconnect with all of those great friends, more than the annual Christmas cards. I'm glad you have such a wonderful friend who is more like family. And I LOVE your blog. I stop in now and then and always love what I read. You're hilarious and cute and just all around fun!