I stood alone in the dining room to open the Amazon box. I knew it was from my dearest Friend, and I wanted to feel alone with her and this gift. Inside was a small drawstring pouch with a tissue-wrapped treasure in its silky core. I could feel something solid, and as I carefully unwound the tissue, I discovered the piece of jewelry she had sent to commemorate my 70th birthday. A beautiful modern representation of the famous Irish Tara Brooch. This one, designed to anchor a scarf, had Green Agate stones and Celtic Knots around the circle. Another perfect gift in a series of perfect gifts that has endured throughout our friendship. She always knows what I will appreciate and, more importantly, need at any given time.
My friend has been going through the fight of her life for the past several months; battling the huge Dragon, and suffering the pain of surgery and radiation treatments. Yet, in the midst of intense physical suffering and the struggle of dealing with so much emotional and mental stress, she managed to find and send this intensely meaningful gift. The human spirit is astonishing, and never ceases to amaze me.
Because we are both descended from Irish ancestors, my friend and I share a connection to Irish traditions and symbolism. The Celtic Knot is special to us for a lot of reasons. In many ways, it stands for the bond that we forged in 1962 as schoolgirls. The Knot is constructed of complete loops that have no start or finish; it is often said to represent Eternity, whether this means Loyalty, Faith, Friendship, or Love. Only one thread is used, and the completed Knot symbolizes the interconnectedness of Life and Eternity. It is this connection that one begins to face after becoming a woman “d’un certain age”.
As I look out at the world through my now 70-year-old eyes, I see things more clearly. With age, they say, comes Wisdom. Perhaps. I do know that one gains a perspective that can only come with surviving the slings and arrows. My friend and I have both weathered storms through the decades, and although she has been the one suffering immensely lately, my connection to her has brought that struggle home to me. I have prayed a LOT recently: prayed for her to recover fully, and for us to once again share time and laughter. The importance of our Friendship is on the front burner every day. I wake with it and sleep with it.
Some recent study showed significant proof that the reason we connect with certain friends and lovers is that our brains are literally wired the same. I believe it. How else can it be that we meet someone who completely understands us on a cellular level? Someone who knows our thoughts and hopes and dreams so thoroughly? I have those moments of sheer delight when my friend finishes my sentences or gets my jokes. I have learned that in this Life it is SO important to be known and understood. My husband and my closest friends really get me, and that is everything.
We can all be proud of our lifetime’s accomplishments. These may be different for each of us, but achievements mark what we valued and what we’ve done with our time. Now that interconnectedness of Life and Eternity starts to take on an increased relevance as we turn 70.So, as I took stock of my achievements the other day (starting a new decade of years will do that for you), I found myself making yet another list.( It is, after all, what I do). This list was most gratifying. In the still of the night, as I lay in bed next to my sleeping Love, I made a mental list of the real, true friends I have. The requirements were these: Loyalty, Trust, and Love. If I called any of these people at two in the morning and asked for help, money, or counsel, I know they would give it without asking why. And they wouldn’t even complain about me waking them up. This list had a dozen people’s names on it. I decided then and there that aside from raising a really kind and good Daughter, that list was my greatest achievement so far. I hope to achieve a lot more as I go forward into my future years, but I am pretty sure that list will retain its importance.
My friend who is now in recovery was at the top of that list, of course. Our alliance has stood the test of time, distance, and outrageous fortune. The Celtic Knot will always represent US; it does stand for the trinity of Soul, Heart, and Mind. Since pagan times, the Knot has linked people’s aspirations for unity, and it links mine to her. We have that special connectedness that keeps us in touch with each other’s feelings, no matter what happens. We are, with a nod to our Irish ancestors, very lucky.