Yesterday I celebrated the 40th birthday of my dearest and oldest (in length, not age!) friend. I have known Nancy since we were 8 year olds in the same Brownie troop. And while she lived near by, we didn’t go to school together until we were in 5th grade.

All through Middle School, we were best friends. We exchanged notes, we talked on the phone, we hung out at the mall and went shopping, we both watch “Dallas” on Friday nights and “The Young and the Restless” during the summer. We played on the same softball team, and I remember my dad (as the coach) loved having a left-handed catcher. I still don’t know what that means; but I remember it.

Nancy and I didn’t go to high school together; her parents both taught at our public high school, but it didn’t have a swim team, so I went to swim at the private Catholic school. I swam, she played golf, we had our own friends at school, but we remained best friends…going out on weekends together, double-dating (more combinations than I care to remember) and slowly learning about life. When I went on my recruiting trip to Notre Dame, Nancy came with me (to visit her brother who was a student at ND). On our flights home, she held an ice pack on my face after I broke my cheek bone on my visit. As soon as we landed, we both knew we wanted to go to school in South Bend.

Nancy went St. Mary’s and I went to Notre Dame. And during January of our freshman year, in the middle of the night, when Assistant Athletics Director Missy Conboy told me my parents were flying back to the hospital to be with me, she asked me if there was anyone else I wanted her to call. “Yes, Nancy.” And she came right away, there for me as she always has been.

So when her husband emailed to tell me he was planning a surprise party for Nancy’s 40th (just as he did for Nancy’s 20th), I knew I would be there. Didn’t matter that it was a Tuesday night. Didn’t matter that I had to leave my kids with friends in Annapolis. Didn’t matter that it’s two weeks before Christmas and everyone’s schedules are pack. It’s Nancy. And while I have some pretty awesome friends (like the ones watching my kids right now!) there is only one who has known me as long and as well as the one I celebrated with last night.

I wish you all the gift of friendship during this Advent season!