We were like sisters, the three of us. They would come just when I needed a friend and return home at dinner time.
Sosha was a brunette, gentle and helpful. Always collaborative.
Bad Patty, on the other hand, was a fiery red head, freckles and alive in a floral print. She broke our LEGO structures, cheated at board games, and would say mean things to Sosha – which I had to defend and then discipline.
I never seemed to notice, but I’m pretty sure, looking back, these friends wore the same clothes every day.
There was a lot I could answer about these two girls. But what I didn’t know was where they lived when we weren’t playing. Nor did I know anything about their families. I didn’t know how they knew the perfect time to show up and play, but they always arrived just when I needed them.
The big change came when, one day, my family loaded up the U-Haul truck and moved to Wyoming. I left Bad Patty behind. She was a troublemaker. Sosha, however, came along.
Sosha and I would play, but things were never quite the same without Bad Patty. It got a little dull. There was nothing to mediate, no problem to solve, no Bad Patty to put in the corner.
I’m not sure when it happened, but one day, Sosha stopped coming. And, I didn’t really notice.
I guess I found friends with bodies rather than the imaginary kind.
But, my first best friends, were real in my imagination and they are real in my memories.
Many speculate about the phenomenon of imaginary friends. As an adult, I have reflected on the complexity of the little, private world in that early friendship triangle. I wonder about their alter-ego personalities, my desire (even then) to mediate conflict and find harmony, and how I could have been so cold-hearted as to have left Bad Patty to fend for herself.
I’ve also reflected on the openness I had then to accept their existence. It was never a question. Some say that children are more receptive to the spiritual dimension, and maybe that’s how the three of us met up.
However they came to be and whoever they were, Sosha and Bad Patty taught me that friends come in all forms…and the truly great ones show up just when we need them. They also helped me learn that sometimes friends are part of our lives for a certain period of time, for a certain reason, and it’s ok to let them go and move on.
My friend, Nicole, gave me a woodblock art piece (before woodblock art was trendy) with this quote on it, “A friend is God’s way of proving he never meant for us to walk alone.”
In our busy lives, I find that friendship needs to be more intentional. It must be nurtured. Otherwise, we’re not sure how it happens…but they stop coming around. And we might not be ready to move on.
Be sure you’re taking the time you need to connect with the friends you trust, the friends you enjoy and the friends you want to know better.
And, if you happen to run into Bad Patty, let her know I’m sorry.
(Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem on Unsplash)