Two weeks ago I went to Austin, Texas, for my high school reunion, and the blessing of friendship has been on my mind. My new friends often marvel at the number of my old ones, three of whom I’ve known since nursery school. Then there’s Tina from kindergarten, Leila from first grade, Bunny from third, Julie and Louisa from fifth – and the list grows through junior high and high school. After so many years, I’m grateful and amazed that we’re like siblings and we all love each other.
When we get together, so much doesn’t have to be said because we know each other well. We remember cooking together for Girl Scout badges, playing duets at piano lessons, guarding each other in basketball games. I can’t hide much from friends who were there when my parents fought or who visited me when I languished in bed with mono. Our connections run deep and strengthen me more and more as I grow older.
You may not know that animals can have deep ties to each other, too. You’ll see them in this video of Shirley and Jenny, two former circus elephants, who were once captive together in a terrible life, then separated for 25 years. At their reunion in a barn at the Elephant Sanctuary in Tennessee, they were so excited to see each other that they trumpeted all night and bent the steel bars between them to move closer together. Set free, they strolled side-by-side in a meadow, and sloshed in a stream, and interlocked their trunks. Anyone can see their beautiful bond. It would be hard to deny the love between them.
As you watch them, you’ll know how I feel around my old friends – and how I hope you feel around yours. I like thinking of special connections, no matter our species. (You’ll see Shirley’s closeness to her human keeper, too.) I also like remembering that all of us in the universe are made of the same stardust. So even on an atomic level we are joined. We’re more alike than different, and what glues us together is love.