In January 2002, I was a sophomore at UNC Greensboro. I had just come back from Christmas break when a friend of mine who went to UNC (the real one) called and told me I should introduce myself to a girl she’d met over the holidays.
“She goes to your school,” she said. “But her boyfriend goes here. She’s really nice.”
These were pre-facebook days. They were even pre-Myspace days. So I looked her up on our school’s online directory, and sent her an email.
Two days later, we met in the student center. She had long dark hair and long fingers, sparkly eyes and a sweet smile. We talked about God and books. She told me about her boyfriend. I told her about mine. We were still having fun, so we drove to Barnes & Noble to look at journals and drink frappuccinos.
Afterward, we walked from the parking lot to her dorm. I said something funny. And then this tiny, soft-spoken girl let out a huge guffaw and punched me hard in the arm. That’s when I knew we were going to be friends for a long time.
Dressed in a black bridesmaid’s dress, I caught the bouquet when she married her high school sweetheart. She held my hand when I cried over mine, and listened, excited, a year later, when I told her I’d met a handsome Englishman. She stood beside me when I married him, and squeezed me tight in my girlhood bedroom just before I left for my honeymoon, while I drew in shaky breaths. I told her I was nervous. She told me I was the most beautiful bride she’d ever seen.
In 2008, when I moved back to North Carolina to start my dream job, and had to wait four torturous months for Simon to join me, I drove the two hours to her house most weekends. We watched The Office and ate ice cream, and laughed so hard we cried.
Before Simon and I moved back to England, we lived in her basement for six months. She was pregnant with her first son, but sacrificed the last few months of her childless life with her husband to serve us in a way we could never repay. We cooked meals together and took long walks together and went on vacation together. We had our first fight over the correct way to cook spaghetti.
Last November, when Adlai was born, she wore out her hardwood floors from pacing back and forth as she waited for Simon to call, from dropping to her knees to ask God to heal him.
We laugh so hard we get stomachaches. We shed real tears over each other’s heartbreaks.
Her name is Sarah, and she’s my friend.