The bell rang signaling the end of third period class and the beginning of lunch.

I sighed as I took my time gathering my things together. I was dreading lunch.

This was my senior year and my first day at a new school where I didn't know anyone. I knew I would probably eat alone. I had never stayed in one school for more than two years. I knew it would take time to make new friends, but lunch was NOW.

I walked out of the classroom into the hall, trying to remember which way to the lunchroom. Maybe I should just skip lunch and find the library. I didn't know it at the time, but that was when God chose to bless me with a lifelong friend.

Rose walked up to me and asked if I was going to lunch. When I told her I was, she invited me to sit and eat with her. Surprised and very grateful, I accepted her invitation, thankful to get through the day's lunch period.

I was grateful for her warm welcome. I don't remember all we spoke about, but only that we talked and laughed. She put me at such ease that I was surprised when the bell rang ending our lunch together.

My stepfather suffered a heart attack during the following night, so I did not return to school for a week. My worried mother stayed with him in the hospital till she knew he was out of danger. I was the only one available to stay and care for my two preschool brothers. Lunchtime worries seemed small and insignificant in the face of what my family was going through.

When I returned to school, so much time had elapsed I felt I was experiencing another first day. My lunch anxiety returned, me believing I would be sitting alone. But once again, Rose rescued me by inviting me to sit with her.

This set the pattern for our senior year. Each day we met for lunch to talk and laugh. I found out she was a popular cheerleader who was involved with many activities. She could have found many reasons not to have invited me to eat with her. Her compassionate nature is one of the reasons people are drawn to her. This was in 1972. We graduated in 1973 believing this would be the end of our lunchtimes together.

Luckily, I was wrong. We have continued our friendship over the years and at times the miles. Growing up, I never lived in one place very long. She lived her school years in one town. After graduation she has moved many times to different parts of the country. I have stayed in the same area.

We firmly believe that computers and email were invented for us. Our lives are still filled with talk and laughter. We encourage each other in the pursuit of our dreams. We give each other pep talks when the other is down. We are not above giving each other a verbal kick in the pants when needed. When I had surgery, she was there with food and flowers. When I found out she was facing serious surgery alone, there was no question that I would go and help her through it.

I tease her that she didn't realize when she invited the new girl to lunch that it would turn out to be a long term involvement.
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