Reflecting on fireflies and friendships 

Published 10:44 am Friday, July 7, 2023

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“Life is partly what we make it, and partly what it is made by the friends we choose.” ~ Tennessee Williams

July strolls in with a handful of Queen Anne’s lace, afternoon thunderstorms and cricket songs. It feels like summer, and I get a fireworks show of the best kind after the rains leave one night. Mist veils hang low on the mountain, countless fireflies sparkle along the road home.

It’s the kind of peaceful night that beckons for windows rolled down, river singing below, tires humming quietly around curves. Memories tend to drift in open windows on drives like this one. I think about my friend DJ, who recently lost her two-year battle with pancreatic cancer. The times she’d come over for a front porch visit and we’d spend time talking about everything and anything that popped up. A bottle of cold prosecco was usually involved until the day came her system couldn’t tolerate even that.

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At the final goodbye, struggling to hold back tears, I kissed her head and held her hand, reminding her of a summer afternoon we laughed ourselves silly at two guys working on my old truck “Turtle” in the back drive. To this day, who knows why it was so funny, but it was! In an instant, we were two little girls on the playground, laughing as hard as only kids can.

DJ’s best friend Deborah of nearly 50 years from up North canceled a vacation to Florida and came to her bedside for the duration, promising to be there through the end. Now that is love. Many of us took DJ to chemo and doctor visits or picked up whatever she needed. There were tears, laughter, good days, and bit by bit, tougher ones. Friends left care packages at her door. One helped put together furniture. Another brought art papers for DJ’s art book projects. One took care of her cat. Everybody was there in some way or form—if one couldn’t make it, another stepped right in, a safety net.

It dawned on me that she’d chosen her friends well when she moved to Saluda. Bit by bit, she picked us—each one with different strengths yet special, a gift. The old saying is true; we don’t get to pick our family, but we can pick our friends. Sometimes as children, we’re not picked first for the team or other things. This is the magic and gift of friendship: we pick each other.–first. Each and every time. We may not get what we need in childhood, but there are friends who bring exactly what we need right now.

Days are sultry, time trickles along rippling trout streams and life continues on. I watch fireflies in the night’s mountain mist and remember. It’s a reminder to hold those porch visits to the heart, to not let a chance slip by to spend a summer afternoon with someone you love. The moment will come when you would give anything to have just one more time. One more afternoon laughing so hard until tears flow and you have to beeline it to the bathroom; being a kid again with someone who is right there with you.

Happy July Birthday to: Debi Thomas, Rheta Foster, Nancy Weinhagen, Lisa Obermiller, Kathy Thompson, Bill Jameson, Emily Rose Ford, Jeremy Ford, Mike Cass, Nathen Honeycutt, Melissa Justus, Hunter Justus, Alyssa Justus, Lin Savage, Doug Taylor, Amanda Anderson, Gail Slaughter, Diane Ballard, Amber Grant, and Marianne Blazar. Add your birthday to the list!

Feel free to contact me at, (828) 817-6765, P.O. Box 331, Saluda, NC 28773, Facebook, or visit