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During the first summer of the pandemic, I turned 60 years old. Such a milestone could not go unmarked or celebrated alone, yet I couldn’t gather friends for a birthday party in person during the season before vaccinations became available. So, I copied something one of my friends did a few months earlier: I hosted a Zoom birthday party for myself!

It was a treat to see my close women friends and family gathered together on my computer screen from around the country. Some had never met each other before. Some had shared adventures. I got to hear each person say how they knew me and how many years ago we entered each other’s lives. I heard their favorite memories of things we did together or experienced together. It was like being at my own memorial service, but better!

My friends gave me back to myself at a moment of social distance, loneliness, and temporary forgetfulness of who I was at my core. What a profound gift!

One of them pointed out that I must be good at cultivating relationships to have so many deep friendships that lasted so many decades. The observation surprised me, but yes: cultivating friendships has always been a priority in my life and I put a lot of time, energy, and care into those relationships. It’s not always easy but is such a rich and varied investment. Friendships come and go, but the ones that last make me who I am.

As the pandemic drags on and another pandemic winter is around the corner, may your friendships sustain and uphold you.

Rev. Dena McPhetres, Associate Minister

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