An old friend called me today.....I hadn't talked to him in over a year. Before that it had been several years. How odd that seems now. As teens and young adults we saw each other every day. Isn't it funny how the hours sometimes seem to last forever, but the years flash by? For a couple of guys who had so much in common all of our lives, things are turning out so....so....different.
Thirty years ago saw us with wild trips to Panama City Beach, all night fishing trips on the river, hours and hours doing nothing at all but riding aimlessly, broken only by the occassional stop at Ootz's Oyster Bar.. He was....and is still, someone I consider a great friend. He's the friend that so many of us had....you know, the one who was the most handsome, always had the girls chasing him.....His parents were financially well off... He always had a nice car and money to spend... I never really knew why he wanted to be friends with me. Looking back, I guess he must have had more character than me too. He wound up marrying one of the most popular girls to ever walk the hallways of old Taylor county High....I'm sure she still "has it goin on today" biut like I said....I haven't seen either of them in a long time. Circumstances sometimes tried to wedge us apart, but time always scarred the hurts over and brought the good times back to mind. We played together, stood up for one another in marriage (that skunk even didn't have on any socks in my wedding pictures), worked together, and in a sense, at a pivotal point for us both, we failed together by working against each other(but that's a story for another day). That failure sent us each reeling in a different direction, sort of a seismic shift in pursuit. Same line of work, different places. How different things went for us both from there.
The early years of my marriage saw me struggle mightly to maintain. We were limping along near the poverty level financially and I had no idea how to be a husband or a father and for years had no inclination to learn. Often times I would go weeks without speaking to her (well I didn't want to interrupt her, but I digress)anyway, I just generally made a miserable mess of all of it. My wife hung in there when no one could have faulted her for giving up. Somewhere along the way though, I found my God and with that I became a better husband...a better person. Eventually God would even make me a very good husband. Early on I was too arrogant to recognize my faults and Tilena was too scrappy to quit. God has richly blessed us both for her courage.... And in the balance, I wound up with the girl that every man drools over at the high school reunions. It is kind of fun watching their eyebrows go up when we come into the room. I know I'm a bit prejudiced, but she is amazing...That woman has defied aging....even gotten better with time. I can't go anywhere without all the men "checking her out". For sure, she is God's second greatest blessing to me....TWe've wound up quite a contrast to my buddy and his wife though. He seemed to thrive in marrige from day one. Those two really seemed cut out for one another. Always together, sound financially and emotionally. Both handsome and well liked. Able to do and go anywhere they wanted. Established families and friends all around. Two people that everyone else wanted to be around.
Circumstances would eventually force us both from our hometown. Me north and my friend east....somewhere along there, we lost one another; speaking only at rare occassion and at multi year intervals. So sad really...there was no good reason for it.
Yes my friend called my today. His seemingly perfect marriage has unraveled. They are separated and filing for divorce. Two kids.......what do you say? It really surprised me. The guy has always been a success at everything he's ever touched, and now this. I thought the two of them would be there forever. I consider both of them friends and the idea of this just hurts me. And I know.....it's not about me. But like I said, I haven't talked to either of them much in the last 16 years. A whole lot can change in 16 years. Me and T-Bug now have a quarter century of history behind us.....An awful lot changed there too. A marriage centered on God is too strong to fail. My wife looks as good today as she did 25 years ago.....as for me..."I'm a lot smarter than I was 25 years ago".I'd rather be in jail with her, than free with anybody else in the world.
Speaking of T-Bug, I think I hear her car in the garage. I think I'll meet her at the door. She's been at choir practice preparing for the Christmas Cantata, like she's been doing many many nights lately....Keep giving to our Lord; and he will keep giving back. Hang in there my old friend. I"m praying for the both of you. That's all I know to do.......