"You have been my friend," replied Charlotte. "That in itself is a tremendous thing."
--E.B. White, from Charlotte's Web
As my husband ducked into the standard black car service vehicle in the pouring rain this evening, I was reminded of ducking into just such a black vehicle in a similar downpour. It was June 24, 2000, the car was in my parents' driveway, and I was wearing white. It was raining cats and dogs, and despite my father's enormous golf umbrella, the most expensive dress I'd ever worn was getting wet. So were my shoes.
I climbed into the limo, followed by five of my dearest friends, all dressed in celadon. As we began to drive to the church, I noticed a sizable mud smear on my wedding dress. In the real world, I know that a smear of mud is nothing to hyperventilate about. On my wedding day, the one time in my life I've ever really, truly cared, stressed, and had nightmares about looking my best, it was devastating.
As I began to overreact, my maid-of-honor and friend since the fifth grade whipped out a strange little white thing from her purse. This is a friend that I would love to have with me in any real crisis--she helped me through many perceived ones in my youth--and she didn't fail me in my moment in need. Claiming the strange item in her hand was something the shoe salesman had tossed in as a freebie in case she scuffed her shoes, she calmly rubbed the little piece of magic over the mud. It disappeared. Problem solved. Crisis averted. Blood pressure returned to normal. She put her magic wand back into her tiny purse and declared her maid-of-honor work done.
Her work that day was not done. She also vehemently insisted that I not cry while standing with my dad in the back of the church, lest I ruin the makeup she'd applied for me. She held up my fancy dress every time I needed to pee. She was there for me--for the big things and the little ones, just like in life.
After thirty-one years of friendship, I have nearly unlimited stories I could tell about my friend. Some are sad, most are funny, and many involve her making me laugh through my tears. Whatever the crisis-of-the-moment, she's always there doing something to make things better. I could tell of grander gestures and greater need, but sometimes the little things say it best. As in so many other instances, in that downpour and mud, she was holding me up and helping me through, all with a shoe store freebie.