A Perfect Weekend for Two Faithful Friends

I am still physically catching up on sleep... this past weekend I stayed up 
way past my bedtime to watch the entire second season of Downton Abbey
 with one of my oldest and dearest friends, Catherine. 

[well, almost... couldn't stay awake for the Christmas Special. 

And I think I drooled on her pillow when I passed out towards the end of Episode 8].

[My 3 fav people in this show.]

Of course, being completely engrossed by the many pleasures of the present moment, 
we took zero pictures. In fact the only picture I have of Catherine is this one from November, 
with her happy (much smaller) godson:

We experimented with a fun-looking Pinterest recipe for dinner on Friday... and it was so good, we ended up slipping down to the kitchen at 10:30 to polish off the leftovers. Mmmmmhmm. 
That was a first for me (not counting every Thanksgiving), 
so it should tell you how unbelievably delicious this dish was.  

[My logic is that the spiciness made my metabolism sky-rocket so my body just really needed those late-night second helpings].


My memories of a long and delightful friendship with Catherine
(beginning when we were 13 and 12, respectively), 
involve late spring nights in sleeping bags on her back patio, 
listening to Nichole Nordeman and Plus1 on her little boombox
 (haha that is so embarrassing to admit!!! Cat I hope you're blushing too)... 

daydreaming out loud together about all the places we wanted to see and things we wanted to do...
dissecting Mr Darcy... 
helping each other to grow into the women we are today
by showing each other in turn kindness,
patience, love and encouragement when it was needed...

12-page-handwritten letters
passed back and forth after the 11 o'clock Masses
at St. Mary's on Sundays... 

together meeting my future husband, Jason Oakes, on the steps of that same
beautiful Church where I was later married...

becoming introduced to the inimitable BBC Pride & Prejudice
(duh the one with Colin Firth)... 

becoming addicts of the inimitable BBC Pride & Prejudice
 (seems as if it was always playing in the background during cold afternoons at each other's houses in highschool)...

sipping hot tea, sharing daily joys,
and meeting for long, happy, chatty walks in the quiet, green, mountainous
escapes of the Upstate of South Carolina.

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *

Catherine holds the very special honor of witnessing my relationship with Jason
 from the very beginning. She was there
 - either right by my side, or smirking furtively in the background -
when I met this handsome, older altar boy 
whom all our altar-server brothers looked up to with admiration.

She teased me once - only once! - my senior year of highschool about my evident adoration for this "older brother" of a friend in my life who was leaving for seminary,
and when I turned the color of a thousand tomatoes,
dropped the topic with tact. 

She only asked me once more if I ever would feel differently about Jason
- you know, someday, and if he wasn't called to the priesthood - 
which just shows you how she possesses that rare hallmark of a true best friend...
she knew me better than I knew myself, even where the future love of my life was concerned. 

I have been so grateful for her constant, affirming, prayerful presence in my life.

Catherine continually encourages me to simply be the woman I want to be... 
never to settle comfortably with my weaknesses, 
 nor to grow discouraged with my failures, 
and always to overcome my insecurities. 

I am so happy to be able to add to my perfectly beautiful list of memories 
of the long years of our fruitful friendship together:

falling asleep over Downton Abbey...

 laughing at a certain Mr. Baby who was 
taking delight in his new green little flip-flop shoes
 smacking on the SouthPark Mall floors...

driving through the grandest old neighborhoods of Charlotte...

taking my dear friend on a tour of all my favorite haunts up here 
(and feeling keenly the treasure of such a friend
 who would so enthusiastically attempt to appreciate them as I do, 
simply because I wanted her to)...

going for a blazingly hot walk on the humid, jungle-like Greenway... 

giggling behind the back of my poor sleep-deprived, slightly incoherent husband...

 sipping Pinot Noir and inhaling daintily nibbling spicy stuffed sweet potatoes
 as we reminisced over old memories and shared with humbling honesty the hardships 
as well as the joys of our respective vocations in life.

The first time I saw the following scripture verse, Catherine had copied it into one of our long letters.

It is truly reflective of the gift her friendship has been to me.

"A faithful friend is a sturdy shelter
He who finds one, finds a treasure.
A faithful friend is beyond price; no sum can balance his worth.

A faithful friend is a life-saving remedy

such as he who fears God finds.

For he who fears God

behaves accordingly, 
and his friend will be like himself."

Sirach 6:14-16

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