Monday, July 21, 2008

Best Friends Forever...Or Until The String Rots...

One of my favorite delights about my sister's visit a few weeks ago, was being able to spend time with my niece and grow up SO fast and it has unfortunately been a few years since I last saw them. I was so pleased to send their parents off (sis and brother-in-law) when I could and just get to know these two genetically-related individuals on my OWN terms...1 on 1...with both of them.

One of the many somewhat "unusual" things I keep around my house are various arts and crafts...not because I anticipate visits from a gaggle of teens, but because I have either previously been interested in the craft or currently trying to teach myself some new project. Last year, I attempted beading and macrame with hemp...but this was strategically NOT at a good time in my life during a relapse, when fingers, eyes, and short-fused patience from steroids caused me to want to weave a life sized noose out of the hemp cord instead of jewelry! (I'm kidding...I think) And, as is somewhat typical of ANY of my craft projects, the hemp weaving/macrame got shoved into a draw with an assortment of beads, never to be fondled again.

Until my niece arrived. I noticed her making multi-colored friendship bracelets out of embroidery thread one evening and I remembered I had the hemp cord and beads collecting dust in a drawer. I asked her if she might be interested in learning how to macrame with it (I of course purchased an assortment of "how to" books that were also filling the drawer) and her eyes lit up like the butt of a firefly. She spent the next several evenings of her vacation learning new knots and loops and macrame skills that were quite impressive...all the while staying up late after the rest of the family had gone to bed and talking with me. I was in spoil-my-niece heaven.

I asked her how she would wear all of the brightly beaded bracelets she was crafting and she told me they were not for her, but for her friends. She pointed out a thin, ankle bracelet she was wearing made out of tiny knots and told me her "best friend" had made it for her. She said they both made each other a bracelet to wear, signifying they were "friends forever"...until the thread eventually rots and the bracelet falls off.

I asked her (with a psychologically concerned look on my face that only an auntie who has 22 years of work experience in the mental health field could possibly wear) what seemed a logical question at this point: "How can you be friends forever until the thread wears out and the bracelet falls off? Wouldn't that happen long before "forever" arrived?"

She laughed at what was obviously seen as old-age silliness in my question and explained her OLD auntie might possibly understand. "Well yeah," she said. "It probably will fall off before FOREVER, but not before we stop being friends."

Still puzzled, I inquired further. "But what if it rots and falls off BEFORE you stop being friends? What then?"

I could tell at this point she was becoming amused by my concrete thinking and probably concerned I was just "too old" to understand. She talked even slower at this juncture, obviously hoping her explanation might sink in.

"Weeeeell", she replied. "If it falls off BEFORE we stop being friends, then we just make each other a NEW bracelet to wear for the NEXT forever." She smiled that, "you really do have Alzheimer's" look and shook her head. Forever didn't mean FOREVER...just "for ever" during THAT particular time frame. Life seemed to be FULL of "forevers" to her...moments...pieces of time that could be dissected and remembered through tangible representations of friendship bracelets and school activities and birthdays and...there was more than ONE "forever" in her life.

This concept of time really fired up the ol' brain cells in my noggin' and I got to thinking about "forevers" I think or believe something will ALWAYS be the way it is in the moment, only to discover a new "forever" enters the picture and changes the very thing I thought unmovable or unchangeable. Take for instance, Multiple Sclerosis...or better yet, MY MS. Just when I seem to grow accustomed to or "accepting of" this or that symptom as "forever", it up and changes on me...and then I spend a great deal of energy and time adapting to the NEW forever!

The conversation with my niece brought home that NOTHING is forever. There's always another "forever" waiting right around the corner. And I can become anxious or even mourn the probability of fraying of the "thread" of my life and the eventual loss of my metaphoric friendship bracelet OR...I can anticipate with great joy what my NEW friendship bracelet in life will look like in my newest "forever" state.

Yes, I know...a philosophical concept that cannot REALLY be explained via the symbolism of a 15 year old's friendship bracelets! Sigh...but still, I try. LOL

While we were visiting the beach two weeks ago, my niece and I stumbled upon two, identical hemp macrame bracelets that we decided we needed to both wear...our symbolic "friendship" bracelet connection. We each tied our bracelets on as securely as possible, vowing NOT to remove them before they "wore out" (while I contemplated just how MANY germs I might be carrying around in a piece of jewelry that would be soaked in bath water, then dragged through God knows what on my wrist!). Now, almost two weeks later, my matching friendship bracelet on my wrist is beginning to show signs of wear and tear...the ends are beginning to fray and I am reminded of its fragile composition. I will be sad when it finally DOES fall from my wrist...just as I was saddened to say "good-bye" to my wise, but young niece when she left.

But, instead of crying over the loss of something I have now grown USED to on my wrist, I am anticipating with great joy the prospect of buying new materials to MAKE us both another symbolic bracelet! And I am very much looking forward to my next "forever" meeting time with my young niece...whenever THAT might be...


Sara said...

the infamous "friends forever" bracelet, i remember those well, to be young again & think that forever is only as long as the thread will last . . . what a concept :)

the problem where i grew up was the teachers thought they were either bad b/c you left people out who didn't have one or they were gang related depending on the colours of the beads, so i'm glad to hear they're still going strong in some places!

i bet teaching her to macrame made you the COOLEST auntie in the world!!


Weeeeell, better the string rots than the friendship rots, I say. The idea of new beginnings and new forevers is somehow sparklely and full of big loopy hearts. We should all carry around a little bit of girlie hope thru life. The unicorns just might send more rainbows our way.

Denver Refashionista said...

Nicely said. I am trying to not worry about "forever" and to just live one day at a time. Forever no longer holds that much for me but right now is huge.

mdmhvonpa said...

The 'next forever' ... sheesh. You immortals are so cocky!

Anonymous said...

Happy Birthday to you!!!

harkoo said...

Being an Aunt is so cool-they share their dreams with you. Sounds like you have forged a lifelong bond with her during her visit.