Colden Harold Friedman. Colden Harold Friedman. Colden Harold Friedman. I keep repeating his name to myself to make him more real. I’ve seen pictures, talked to the proud parents, but he’s still just an abstract concept to me. On the evening of February 7th, my best friend’s wife gave birth to a beautiful baby boy and my life is forever different.
When Marc told me they were to have a human child to add to their family in addition to their puppy children, I was ecstatic. Marc and I have been close friends for over twenty years; I was the best man at his wedding, as he will be at mine (if that ever happens.) Our time together is sporadic, as we haven’t both lived in the same part of the country since college. But as lifelong friends do, when we’re together it feels as if no time has passed. It’s so comforting to have a friend who has stood by you through thick and thin, years upon years, and who knows you almost better than you know yourself. We can make references to our imagination games we had when we were young, our friendly competitive rivalries in high school, the college days when I traveled up to Macalester from Iowa State to visit him.
It’s kind of funny. When Marc said he and Kendra would be married, I was slightly surprised. I had secretly thought they’d be that couple, in their 50s, who finally decide they should sign some paperwork and be officially married. They’d been together for years so of course it wasn’t actually much of a surprise. In keeping with their style, the wedding was very nontraditional. It was held on a nature preserve in September, ripe with flowers and complete with camping and an outdoor ceremony officiated by Kendra’s boss. The ceremony hearkened back to ancient times, with an invocation to peace and love, sharing of wine, simple rings, and hand-binding. It was, simply put, beautiful. As I expected, I promptly began tearing up as I saw the happy couple, now forever bound, leaving the clearing as husband and wife. At that moment our lives were changed: now instead of having a best friend, I had a second best friend as well. Kendra is now an integral part of our lives, and my heart spills over to think of the joy that has entered their (our) lives.
To see them together reminds me of what I want in my life. They glow. It’s not necessarily that I feel I am incomplete without a partner, but I must admit that in some way I do feel that way. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said in The Little Prince that love isn’t gazing at each other but looking together in the same direction. I’m such a creature of companionship, as evidenced by the fact that most of my friends have been in my life for years, that having someone with whom to share every experience would be… in a word, comforting. I’m definitely a relationship-minded person: random hookups don’t do it for me. Waking up next to the same person day after day is wonderful.
Imagine my joy when I learned that my life with them would be expanded to include a little one. Their two puppy children, Lola and Sammy, were practically like my virtual nieces, but not I’d be a virtual uncle for real! That’s kind of how I feel: a virtual uncle. I’ve said before that my friends are part of my family, so it’s a fitting analogy. I wish I could live closer to them so I’d be in the baby’s life more, but I suppose I have the knowledge that my sister-in-law is pregnant with twins, so I’ll be a real uncle soon enough.
Once again, the pregnancy was very their style. They didn’t find out the sex of the child, so all their family and friends were on tenterhooks of curiosity. She was a beautiful pregnant woman… again a glow. The medical interactions were limited, relying more upon their midwife. They opted for a home water birth as well. I was worried something would go wrong and that she’d have to be rushed to the hospital (Marc’s father the doctor was also worried and tried to get them to change their minds.) But of course, Kendra did spendidly and gave birth to a very healthy baby boy.
I can’t help but wonder how this will change my life. The eons of childbirth and parenting have made it fairly obvious how the parents’ lives will change. But the circumstance of a best friend’s relationship to a child is somewhat less defined. I honestly have no idea how this will change our interactions on a very fundamental level. The propensity to (mild) debauchery will of course be gone. For years now their lives will be filled with diapers and waking up at early hours of the morning to a crying baby. Then to crawling, then the first day of school, then graduation, then letting them fly free on their own wings as they leave the nest, inevitably. Our lives have been touched by the magic of birth, but I can’t help but wonder… just how will this change us? I have no worries we’ll grow distant or that anything major will change our relationship, but it’s still a curious thought to know that they are a bigger family now. I’m sure the first few months will lead to some decreased communication as they deal with the responsibilities of caring for a newborn, but that will change. I know that no longer do they think in terms of ‘a couple’ but now ‘a family.’
And my family is now plus one.