“Best Friends Forever!” That will be a statement that will forever be etched in my mind. A phrase kids say to each other without possibly even knowing the depth of its meaning. After all forever is a really long time. But the circumstances of this past year have forever changed how I view friendships, what defines a friend, and shown me the beauty of how life-changing a true friend can be.
Nate and Seth became friends before they even knew it or had a choice about it. The first time I met Katie, the boys were still forming in our bellies. Despite being just a week a part in age, and living across the street from each other, we had no idea how similar the two of them were going to be. In their short years together, they played together every moment possible. As soon as Seth woke up in the morning, he was asking me to text Miss Katie and ask for Nate to come over. I would hold him off as long as possible, at least until his brother and sister got on the bus for school, but knowing I wouldn’t hear the end of it until Seth saw Nate coming towards the house. For Seth’s first 5 ½ years, his life was all about Nate and he would have it no other way.
Nate and Seth were as rough and tumble as two boys could be. They would spend their days at our house or Nate’s playing in the sandbox with the trucks, building forts with all the couch cushions and blankets that they could find, where of course they wanted to be served snacks and lunch together. After lunch the pillows would be built into as large a tower as possible so that they could jump and fall off in crazy ways, their idea of playing “Funniest Home Videos”. They were the daring duo, quick to learn to ride their bikes without training wheels because the fear was just not there. This was especially true when they were together. If Nate was by his side, Seth would try just about anything. I remember one day walking outside to check on them, shortly after they had both learned to ride their bikes, and seeing the two of them riding downhill at full speed in the front yard, watching their pride as they did “tricks” and things my two oldest would have never thought to try.
Inevitably their stubbornness and willfulness led to one of two things…mischief or fighting. I had learned from experience that if it was quiet for too long, Seth and Nate were both up to no good. It usually involved the boys pulling the tools from the garage out into the yard as they “worked” on something outside, of course leaving a trail of disaster behind. They could easily coax each other into things they knew better than to do and were also quick to place the blame on the other one when they got into trouble! Both Seth and Nate had clear ideas of who was the boss, each one thinking it was themselves. Frequently they would butt heads trying to figure out just who was the biggest alpha male of the two of them and argue over who had to listen to whom.
Despite it all there was never a question as to whether they loved each other. After their day of play, antics, and fighting just one thing remained. Seth would insist on walking Nate down the yard until he would safely cross the street to his house. I can still see Nate walking up the long uphill drive home, all along the way calling silly names back and forth with Seth and screaming at the top of their lungs, “Best Friends Forever, Seth!”, Best Friends Forever, Nate!”
After Nate passed, I was struck by the huge hole that was left in our lives and Seth’s life. Nate was like one of my own in so many ways, because there was rarely a day that our family was not around him. Seth and Nate had been inseparable in just about everything they did from spending their days playing, to t-ball and wrestling, birthdays, even to their first day of kindergarten. If Nate was doing it, Seth wanted to be there too. I wondered if at Seth’s age he could even process or comprehend that his friend would no longer be coming to the house, be able to come for sleepovers or birthday parties and special moments that only best friends share. I saw the pain and loneliness in his eyes when we would chat before bed about Nate and why Nate was now with Jesus and having more fun than we could ever imagine.
As adults, it is easy to be marred by the pain and injustice of this world and criticize a child for their seeming inability to understand the depth of loss and grief. However, I am learning that the innocence of a child is a beautiful thing. As adults we overcomplicate things with our own bitterness, skepticism, and doubts. Children often allow themselves to be accepting of reality without being hindered by it. Seth knows that he will never again see his friend Nate on this earth, but that sadness is overwhelmed by the knowledge that he will see Nate again one day. He does not doubt the love and friendship that they shared because it is forever imprinted on his heart. Their love was pure and real and deep. There is no sadness there. Seth knows that he loves Nate and knows that Nate will forever love him and will be anxiously waiting for Seth to come home.
Nate taught Seth so many things about life…in 5 short years. Nate taught Seth how a true friend loves you more than himself. Nate taught Seth that you never have to be afraid with a friend by your side. Nate taught Seth to stand strong and hold your ground, because sometimes being confident can be just as important as being right. Lol Nate taught Seth to have fun and be yourself no matter how silly it looks to anyone else. Most importantly, Nate taught Seth that Best Friends truly are Forever. Nothing will separate them because friendship does not end with death.
I Samuel 20:42—“Go in peace, for we have sworn loyalty to each other in the Lord’s name. The Lord is the witness of a bond between us…forever.”
All My Love,
I was brought to tears as I read Naomi’s words. The love she has for her son, Nate, my family, and Christ are undeniable. The childlike faith that children have is a faith I wish we all could know. I knew Naomi would be an important friend in our journey through grief from the beginning but she has been more to us than she will ever know. Naomi has been a shoulder to cry on and a strong sister in Christ. We are forever connected through Christ and our boys. When I see Seth I see a sparkle in his eye of Nate. I hope I never lose sight of that. Naomi, I thank your for sharing your heart in this post. Love you our dear friend.