Years ago, while in college, l met a young family who was just as mine struggling to get by themselves. Reflecting on how our paths crossing taught me a wealth of Italian Bronx culture, coupled with the blessings of what a twenty dollar floating bill back and forth could mean. In life we have benchmark stops on our stroll through life, where we encounter souls that come into our lives for either the entire journey, or for parts of it. As they pass by leaving a passport stamp that we take with us as we travel along, helping us remember the blessing.


School years we think of course will last forever, till we look up from our desks to realize it's a twenty-five reunion. Some are fortunate to stay in kindred spirit during the course of the years. As in those that stepped on the playground on that first day, then they are still standing close by as they venture out into new chapters with our lives; wedding days and birth of children in celebration.


The "pick up where you left off", "ride or die" friends, are just as endeared. Distance or circumstances might dictate how often you get to sit and reflect, but you just start again, like you never even took a breath from where you left off last. You can read a thought from a glance, know by their eyes and if they sigh, you can fill in the blanks. In the middle of the night, if they cry you can wipe their tears, miles away and without asking they are right on their way. They see through our very soul.


The ones we have all been missing and hold dearest of all, are the "cup of sugar", the best friends of all. They see you at your worst, love you still and make you feel better somehow when you don't have a drop left in you. They fill your gas tank up when on empty, your pockets and your soul is well past that well. They are slow to anger, patient, steadfast. If needed, laying bedfast... chicken noodle soup is coming hurried and fast. They rejoice with you on every level and milestone. We can rush in and raid their refrigerator or pantry, we know where each other's things are, this is why they are the framework of our daily lives.


"A friend loveth at all times," the good book says, tis' true. It isn't always easy, convenient, and in years such as this, the unexpected is becoming the expected. May we cherish each other ever more and realize how precious this gift is to have deep, loyal friendships. No amount of money can ever replace this we all need all of these friends if we are honest...let us let them know what a Godsend they are.


Thoughts from the Countryside bench