Today, one of my dearest friends turns 27.
Didn’t seem that long ago when I first knew of her. She was in a different class from me in Sec 1 & 2, but in Sec 2, she was one of the PUN (Prefect Understudy Nominee) level representatives. I hardly talked to her then. She was very quiet, kind, and gentle. And everybody seemed to like her, I was always hearing about how nice she was. We weren’t drawn to each other then, and we only talked when business made it necessary.
We became classmates in Sec 3. At the beginning of the year, she was absent from school for two weeks because of chicken pox. And I didn’t notice that she was gone until she returned. (I still remember that embarrasing conversation. Fortunately she is every bit as nice as people say she is, and she didn’t begrudge me for it. Heh.) Among the sea of friendships that burgeoned and faded in those early days, it didn’t seem like she and I were meant to be much more than acquaintances or people that had a mutual friend.
Things have a way of surprising us though. We worked long hours side by side in the Prefectorial Executive Committee. She was the best Secretary any Head Prefect could have hoped for. (We were all so proud of how efficient and meticulous she was!) Somehow we started spending time together after school. Back at the beginning, I talked, she listened *smile*. Our friendship had a slow start, but once it began, there was no looking back.
Both in Hwa Chong and in UofT, we were together yet apart. In the same place, but moving in different circles with different people a lot of the time. But we always looked forward to the times when we could spend time alone with each other, because there was always so much to talk about. And in the milieu of classmates and friends we had, I think we both felt that we shared an understanding that was unique.
This friendship has had its fair share of bumps. We’re both stubborn and prideful people, and we’re both very sensitive and passionate. There had been periods where either one of us or both were hurting because of the other. Communication wasn’t our strong point, and circumstances in life sometimes made it difficult for us to be fully there for each other. We’ve had misunderstandings. We’ve been angry with each other. We’ve even, I think, felt distant from each other at one point because of the unspoken pain between us.
We walked through all that! The laughter and the tears…the incessant chatter and the uncomfortable silences… feeling understood and feeling misunderstood. Through girlish dreams, first love, heartbreak, graduation, marriage and now motherhood. We are two very similar souls who have become better friends and better people through walking our own journeys and I can see how much we have both grown over the years.
I remember the dreamy, idealistic girl of 15… the one who had time for anyone who needed a friendly ear. I remember the shy girl that was always happy to lend support but terrified of taking the spot-light. I was there to watch the pain when that delicate heart was subject to the first hard lessons that life had in store for it. But now I see a wiser, stronger and more beautiful woman, and I am prouder and more grateful than ever to be loved by this friend.
This is yet another birthday that I cannot spend with you, dear. But as always, you know that you’re in my heart. Happy Birthday, and thank you for being you.