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.

(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.


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.


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.