Hand-Me-Downs

By Sonya Lee

Friendships form in many different ways and at many different points in life. Some form in grade school, high school, college or the work force, but rarely do they form at birth. However, born just six weeks apart, that is exactly when Whit and Katie became friends. Due to the friendships of their parents, they spent so much of their youth together that people often mistook them for twins.

Over the years, Whit and Katie ceased to favor as much as they once had – emerging into individual beings with independent interests. All the while, their friendship continued to grow as a result of annual family vacations, teenage parties and some matchmaking attempts by Katie. They were close – family in some respects.

When I began dating Whit in college, I would accompany Whit’s family on their vacations and to friendly gatherings. I was introduced to Katie, and we had the occasional conversation. We were acquaintances I guess one would say – friends by association. However, it seemed only natural when Whit and I became engaged four years later, that I ask Katie to be a bridesmaid. She had been like a sister to Whit, and like other things in marriage, I was hoping the “what’s mine is yours” adage would hold true. I wanted Katie and me to be friends too, so I was happy when she accepted. And throughout our engagement and wedding process, I would like to say our relationship was upgraded from friends by association to friends.

As the years went by, we continued to vacation with Katie’s family and to gather together for our annual Christmas party and other milestones, like weddings and the births of our children. Throughout those years, we grew closer – not only because of our connection to Whit but because Katie is a teacher, wife, and mother like me. We shared commonalities that led to conversations filled with venting, advice, empathy and often laughter.

I would, at that point, liked to have said we were good friends, but I have always been a little self-conscious – thinking maybe she didn’t see our relationship the way I saw it; maybe I really was just Whit’s wife. But two years ago, I got confirmation that I wasn’t just a friend of a friend.

One night while I was bathing my daughter the phone rang, and unlike most of the time when I would have just let it ring and returned the call at a less hectic time, I answered because it was Katie. Though we didn’t talk that often, I always enjoyed hearing from her. She was the friend I could always be candid with – no sugar coating. I don’t remember all that we talked about that night, but I will never forget the one question that she did ask. “Listen, ideally I wouldn’t do this over the phone, but Dan and I are having Daniel dedicated at church soon, and we were wondering if you and Whit would be Daniel’s godparents?”

I immediately answered, “Oh, Katie! We would be honored.” She urged me to talk it over with Whit and to think about it because, of course, this would mean if anything ever happened to them we would be adding one more to our rambunctious brood of two. What was there to think about? Katie was Whit’s oldest friend and over the years had become one of my dearest.

That December we all gathered in a small, country church, and Whit and I stood up and graciously accepted the role of godparents. There were tears in my eyes and joy in my heart. While Katie may have started out as a hand-me-down friend, she had become so much more over the last ten years. She had become a true friend.

And in just a little over a week, both of our families will pack up and head down to Hatteras, North Carolina, for our annual family vacation. While we don’t see each other that much during the year due to insanely busy schedules – we will spend the week catching up on what we’ve missed. We will sit on the beach together watching our three children play in the sand and talking about the one on the way. At some point, I am sure we will sit in silence – enjoying the crashing of the waves, the squawking of the sea gulls overhead and the vision that one day the squeals of laughter from our children down by the water’s edge will lead to friendships such as ours.

About this writer

  • Sonya Lee Sonya Lee lives in Chesterfield, Virginia, with her husband and two children. She teaches high school English and enjoys writing candidly about her life experiences.

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