A friendship is renewed, strengthened in Covid era

by Denise Dykstra

This past week it was one of my dear friend’s birthday.  We have been planning to celebrate together since about August when I had realized our football team was playing in her hometown, and she reminded me it was her birthday on the same exact day as the game.

But it didn’t happen.

After all the days we have been excitedly counting down for, after all the complete strangers I shared with that it was my best friend’s birthday, on the same day we traveled to her home town for football (YAY for all the sports!), our son ended up being moved up to varsity and not playing that JV game.

The forecast was all doom and gloom with rain.  And even if we had decided to drive out anyhow, we ended up with one of those homeowners’ emergencies we couldn’t walk away from (one reason to be thankful there was no game).

It all made my friend and me terribly sad.

Sometimes, life happens that way.  Sometimes, your best made plans crumble to pieces and you have to figure out how it is still beautiful.  Wendee and I are really good at this.

We are high school friends who had completely lost touch.  We had reconnected somewhat in the past six years.  When our son left for the Navy, she surprised me with a book of encouragement and regular check-ins on me, as well as writing to our son while he was in boot camp.

When Covid hit and quarantine began, our friendship went from “good friends” to the “in an emergency, I am contacting you” friendship.

It was one of the great gifts of quarantine.

After being stuck in our home for so long that the walls seemed to be caving in on me, Wendee stepped up.  She arrived with a thinking cap on and had the radical idea of swapping our living room and dining room rooms.  She won the boys over with the promise “You could fit a really big Christmas tree in here if you did that.”

The very next day, my husband was gone overnight for work and between zoom calls with the boys’ teachers, we swapped the two rooms.  I will forever regret that I did not take pictures of this swap, but suffice it to say that it took us more than four tries to get the couch out of the room it was in.  It’s also worth mentioning the dining room table was finished being built in the old dining room because of its massive size.

The room swap worked.  It worked so well we have kept it well past Christmas tree season and plan to never move the rooms again.  Well, unless Wendee has another brilliant plan.

With Wendee’s birthday approaching, I wondered what it was that drew us together during quarantine.  When I try to pinpoint when our friendship took the turn to being a friend to being the text you in the middle-of-the-hard friend, all I can think of is letters.

In the quarantine times, we had so much social media.  It was our one and only way to connect and it became loud and wonderful, as well as tense and and noisy, in all those days with us all crammed into the same platform — conversing on Facebook.  In the midst of the social media noise, I received a handwritten letter.  Not just a quick note, an actual letter.  That letter felt like having a deep conversation in the middle of a cozy coffee shop protected from all the hustle and bustle of the world outside the door.

It was a lot of little things that led up to that letter, but that letter was the beginning of becoming the best of friends.

There are so many more things to tell you about my friend, Wendee:

How she homeschools her sons and how she loves to fish the river with her husband.  How she understands fully the importance of cast iron pans.  How she and I have matching one-of-a-kind coffee mugs.  How Wendee sends the best surprise gifts in the mail. How, if you think one of these columns sounds exceptionally good and the punctuation is on point, it’s because she edited it before I sent it in.  How I nearly cried when I finally heard Wendee laugh again after her intensive brain surgery this year.

Wendee is a gift and she makes life a celebration.  We may not have been together on her birthday, but I have no doubts we will be celebrating fully the gift of our friendship again soon.

Tell me about one of your friends.  How has your friendship felt like a celebration and gift just for being friends together?


  • Denise, there is nothing like an actual, hand-written letter or note from a dear friend to cement that feeling of closeness.
    I have such a friend, too, and I cherish every note that arrives in the mail. I try to send as many as she does.
    There is no equivalent to that feeling of a letter arriving in an envelope with your own name on it. No email or Skype or Zoom can compare.
    The only thing better is the actual presence of that friend in the flesh!!

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