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A Twenty Year Friendship Crescendo

Dear Friends,I fell in love with my friend, almost twenty years ago, at a task force meeting for our spiritual community. We each had a styrofoam cup of coffee with powdered creamer in one hand and a day old donut swaddled in a napkin, in the other. We were in a small Las Vegas church in an even smaller room filled with voted-in leaders from across the country. Our eyes met as if to agree this continental breakfast was lame for a volunteer group who took vacation time from work traveling far distances to make a contribution to this organization. Our eye language became an instant and lasting part of our relationship.

On our first break, we briskly left the building walking to the nearest grocery to buy some fresh food.

Judy MacDonald Johnston gives an end of life TED Talk worth watching

Judy MacDonald Johnston gives an end of life TED Talk worth watching

We bit into a fresh apple, drank from our sweating water bottles and giggled our bond into existence. I learned my new friend was thirty five years my senior, although she didn’t look it and her energy didn’t convey it. She told me about her husband, her one true love, who had passed away. I was between boyfriends, so I don’t recall what I shared, yet I have no doubt that I shared something juicy. She spoke of being a single mother and raising her daughter. My daughter was still in her single digits and at home with a dear friend taking to her school while the two of us were returning back to our meeting. We both valued education. We confessed our failures and we shared our dreams.

Our conversation would pick up again at lunch and continues to be picked up with our weekly phone calls, visits, trips together, or hand written letters. Each visit is guaranteed to include staying up in our nighties drinking tea past 1 am playing the five deck card game Hand and Foot, which she is sure to accuse me of cheating if I am in the lead.

In 2004/5 I traveled across the country and Canada teaching forgiveness practices. This eighteen months was called The Forgiveness Tour, and I was the leader. Her home was my Los Angeles home base. With each return, she opened her front door, arms extended outward with her infectious laugh of understanding. She knew me. She understood me. Her welcome was in sharp contrast to my parents who saw this tour as a waste of my talent, and not safe. To be embraced by her with acknowledgement, honor, and recognition of my Soul work, kept me going.

My dear friend/spiritual companion/sister/mother is now headed toward 90 years of age. Still vital, sassy, hilarious, and with actively vocal eyes; our visits have become different. The prayers, card games, and deep talks continue, yet her body no longer matches her internal vitality. I drop her off at the front door of the restaurant while I find a parking place. We hold hands when we walk knowing this is more than a demonstration of affection, it is necessary to get from where we are to where we intend. She takes naps. I cook more for her more than she does for me. And we talk about the logistics of death.

Today I received a TED Talk in my email which beautifully speaks to what we’re walking through. It’s six minutes or so, in length, with practical advise in supporting someone as they end their life journey.

This memorial day weekend, I recall and remember the Power of Love which is visibile and tangible right now along with the invisible no longer tangible, still potent Love. And, I celebrate my friend.


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