You’re my best friend, he whispered in the dark of the night, in those moments before we drifted off into compatible sleep.

It was late and dark, the end to an intense weekend of doing, running, not being, and certainly not being together, and those words were all it took to melt me.

Really? I whispered back.

It was unpercedented, unprompted, his admission to me of his heart, a gift in the middle of the night, whispered so tenderly as if to set a delicate bird off into its long-awaited flight. Here, go.

The next morning, when I called him to tell him how much those words meant, to verify that it wasn’t a dream where I had imagined those words but in fact, he really had said them, I kept saying it was so tender of him, it was so sweet, it meant so much to me.

This, from my husband, the man who pledged lifelong love to me, who comes home to me every day and kisses me goodbye every morning. Unexpected because we, like everyone else, get so caught in the web of life-unfolding.

He sounded amazed by my surprise.

Of course, he said. I may not always say it, but yes, you are my best friend.

And suddenly, any argument we may have had in the past was erased. Gone as if it never happened. The love took over.

We choose the people we love and then forget we made that choice. When I am criticizing whatever little insignificant task and he takes it because he doesn’t want to start a fight, and I offer the critique because I am annoyed or stressed or unable to voice whatever is bothering me, we forget that love is the root at why we share this house.

This life.

But friendship transcends life. It goes deeper.

And suddenly, I was envisioning the definition of best friend, the one you tell secrets to, pass notes to in class, travel with, take shopping. It’s the person you can’t get enough of.

The person you trust with your whole self.

When you fall in love and decide to build a life with someone, it’s different than friendship.

Friendship rides waves over years. There are Major Talks and heart-to-hearts, falling-outs and falling-back-ins.

You know each other from very young sometimes until very old.

It’s nice if love and friendship go together but there’s no guarantee. They are not one and the same.

Those words changed everything.

That, and the fact that he said it without me asking him. Without expectation. Without demand.

Yes, it’s a wondrous thing, this late night admission, and I am back on the ground, cognizent of the fact that we weave in and out of days, choosing to be present or not, choosing stress and anxiety over pleasure and calm.

We run the treadmill of life to no visible end.

And then we complain bitterly that things are not working out as we had hoped.

My best friend, I thought, as I went into my golden-sunlit day. A beautiful gift indeed.

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