Friends and family looked at me, expectantly. They had gathered to surprise me for my 60th birthday and I was totally shocked. I knew I was going to see “The Music Man” on Broadway. My son bought the tickets months prior to the performance. I thought we were meeting my sister and parents for dinner.
Instead, I was greeted with “SURPRISE!” and a room full of friends and family that gathered at Zou Zous in Manhattan on this rainy evening. One came from VA, one from MN, others from CT and family from PA.
I was in shock.
We laughed, we talked, we ate and then a friend stood and talked about our friendship.
I followed her words with mine, but honestly, I cannot remember what I said…I know now what I wish I would have told everyone. Here it is:
As I look out at all of you, I see two friends who hiked into the Boundary Waters of Canada with me, escaping the invasion of a bear and her cub to our campsite on the last night.
Life is a lot like my trip to the Boundary Waters. I was lucky to have friends who were guides and knew the territory and owned the right gear. Hopefully, on your trip you will find the right friends as well.
They will come with the right gear: a sense of humor, a listening ear, a certain commitment to walking long distance no matter the terrain or how heavy the pack.
Your back pack will get heavy. There will be a bear or two on the long haul.
They will stick by your side and when you pull out of your campsite as dark is descending, you will be nervous about finding that distant shore, but one of your friend/guides will assure you, “I got this! I know where it is,” because they will have faith when you need it and will be generous enough to hold it out to you.
I don’t know what your “bear” will be. My friends and I have faced many: cancer, infertility, abusive marriages, divorce, sudden death, mentally illness, adoption, addictions.
Sometimes, life feels like you are lost in the middle of a dark lake.
And when you find yourselves in the middle of the lake, instead of finding more fear, may you be greeted by shooting stars and the Northern lights.
Those relationships, those friends and family that have stuck by my side and journeyed into the wilderness have made my 60 years worthwhile. They are my shooting stars and guiding lights in dark moments.
Thank you to everyone here for being those stars for me.
Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.Helen Keller