This is what I wish for my sons. It is not admittance to a prestigious school or a high powered career. It is not a house in a tony suburb or a home theatre. All of these things are nice.

A spouse who will love them unconditionally and be with them through the good and bad. The love of a family and the joy of their own children. Yes, these are understood. Their health. Their happiness. Of course.

But, then there is this wish: that they have someone, just someone, who remembers them then.Because when you are old, there is nothing better than someone who knew you when you were young. When your mom dies. When your dad gets sick, there is no one who understands it better than your best friend of days gone by. There is no friend like an old friend. And I wish that for them.

I met Allison in third grade. We worked on a science project together. I remember her third grade laugh. I remember her third grade handwriting. I remember her third grade hairstyle (it wasn’t very good). I remember my brother tying her up in a tree and aiming his toy rifle at her. I remember middle school with her, when everyone else got training bras and we were the proud wearers of undershirts. Together, we survived high school. We were the only two juniors — I think in the history of our high school — cut from the JV field hockey team. We shared broken hearts as we watched our true loves invite others to the senior prom. One time we crashed into our own school bus with her car. Now that’s a memory.

And then growing up happened.

She married young. I traveled the world. She had a sweet little son. And then a daughter.  I had a career. There was no obligation to keep in touch. Sometimes we did and sometimes we didn’t. There are big chunks of her life of which I am completely unaware. There are equally big chunks of mine where she didn’t play even a minor part.

We weren’t there for all of the big stuff. We carried on. I got married (finally). She got a job.  I got wrinkles (she didn’t). Our kids grew up. Well, mine, not completely, but close.

When her mom died, she called me first. And I told her how I loved her mother and her stay-at-home-momness. I loved her cigarette-smoke-filled chuckle. I loved her complete acceptance of us as awkward teenagers. I loved that she loved me almost as much as she loved her own daughter. I loved how she always kept sunflower seeds in the cabinet and Days of Our Lives on the TV.

And when my mom died, I called her, too. And she told me how she admired my mom and looked up to her. She told me how much she learned from her and how she wanted to be a teacher partly because of her. She remembered her french fries. She remembered her bikini. I have a brother and a sister who I love very much. A brother and a sister who share their love for my mom as only siblings can. But no one was as close to being in my skin as Allison.

And so that is what I wish for my boys. They are lucky. They have so many “brothers from another mother” right now. That’s what my middle boy calls his crew. They complete each other’s sentences. They feel each other’s pain. And joy. It is a blessing.

But growing up is gonna happen. It always does.

And when it does, I wish this for them. An old friend. An old friend who knew them then. I wish for memories of milkshakes and cub scouts. I wish for stories of  homeruns, real and fictional. I wish for the re-telling of  broken hearts, no longer tender. I wish for recollections of nerf gun war treachery and pool party traditions. I wish for thoughts of third grade laughter and bad haircuts. And when I leave them, as some day I must, I wish for an old friend to call. Because an old friend just knows. Like no one else does. Thanks, Al.

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