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  • Ken Zen

The Friend

Jane and I go way back to first grade. We were the only two girls wearing pink dresses on the first day of school. We eyed each other and exchanged smiles. After class, I said, "I like your dress!" She giggled and replied, "I like yours too!" It was the start of a beautiful friendship spanning over a decade.

We navigated childhood together. We traded stickers and shared snacks. We rode our bikes around the neighbourhood after school, racing and playing made-up games. Sleepovers where we stayed up late whispering and watching movies. Through elementary school and middle school, we were inseparable.

When I was bullied in eighth grade, Jane was my fiercest defender. She confronted the mean girls and reported them to the teachers. After school, she walked me home to ensure I was safe. I cried to her about my pain and struggles. She held my hand and reassured me things would get better.

In high school, we had growing pains as friends. Jane became interested in clothes, makeup and boys. I remained a bookworm focused on my studies. We had less in common but still made efforts to connect. Study sessions at the library followed by lunch at our favourite cafe. Though we ran in different circles, I knew I could call Jane for anything.

The year I was preparing to apply for college, my parents went through a difficult divorce. I was devastated. My world felt like it was crumbling. Jane came over every day after school and listened as I poured my heart out. She researched all the colleges I was interested in to help with my applications. When I got accepted to my dream school, Jane was the first person I called, cheering loudly.

Physical distance separated us in college, but we texted and called often. Jane was there for my triumphs and heartbreaks over the years. She was the first to know when I landed my dream job when I moved in with my boyfriend and when he eventually broke my heart. Though miles apart, Jane's friendship gave me strength and courage to pursue my dreams.

Now, at 26, we live in different cities, building our careers and adult lives. But the bond remains as strong as ever. We were flying across the country for each other's birthdays and milestones. Hour-long phone calls giggling like teens. Words of advice and comfort when challenges arise. A friend who knew and loved me first as a shy girl in a pink dress.

Some people come into your life for only a season. You are fortunate to find those who walk with you from sunrise to sunset as true friends. People like Jane who laugh and cry together with you. Meetings rely on affinity, getting to know one another relying on sincerity of heart. The greatest blessing is a lifelong friend.

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