Yesterday Doug asked me, "How much money would you pay to meet me, knowing what you know now?" I could tell from the look on his face that it was a loaded question. I wanted to make sure I had the right answer. I asked him if that included all that we had, the boys, my in-laws, my family. He said, "Yes. How much money would you pay 6 years ago to have what we have now?" I got a little choked up thinking of the idea of not having what I have now and said, "Everything I had. I would give everything I had."
Then, he asked me how much money I would pay to meet Jolene. (I've stated previously, "When I got to college, I met the sister I'd never had. Jolene has been my best friend ever since. She is the friend that comes to visit when you have a baby. She's the friend who, on days when I am particularly stressed out, Doug has even mentioned, "I think you need to talk to Jolene". She helps me re-center and put things in perspective. College is a very pivotal time in life and I was grateful for a friend who seemed to see everything the same way that I did.") Jolene is a very important foundation in my life. My response, "Everything I had - minus 100 dollars."
Meanwhile, I'm just itching to know where this is leading. Thankfully, I didn't have to wait long.
He explained that he had been worried, (read: frustrated), by how much I have been stressing out about all my student loans. He said that I just needed to re-frame it a bit and see it from the perspective of not only getting an education but also having important life experiences. If I had not gone to the college I did, I never would have met Jolene and I seriously doubt there is a better person anywhere to be my best friend. I just had to pay private college tuition for that opportunity.
I met Douglas because of pharmacy school. Prior to taking the big entrance exam, I asked my singles ward bishop for a blessing. In the blessing, he stated that my decision to go to pharmacy school would open many doors, including the door that would lead me to my eternal companion. (Afterwards, he apologized, saying that especially with his current calling, he did not like mentioning such things in blessings but felt very strongly that it needed to be said.) Sure enough, when I got into school, I moved to a different part of Salt Lake to decrease my commute time. I met this amazing guy, (which I finally figured out 6 months after meeting him), and we got married. Again, for the "discount price" of private graduate school tuition, I was given the opportunity to meet a life-changing, (or really an eternity-changing), friend.
Also, in pharmacy school, I found the graduate school version of Jolene in my friend, Sarah. She has continued to be a support and anchor for me and I am so grateful for all the crazy study sessions we had. I could not have made it through that 4 years without her.
To put it in terms of a popular credit card commercial:
Cost of private undergraduate education: More than our car
Cost of private graduate education: Equivalent to a house fancier than we can even imagine (with private tennis courts)
Cost of meeting friends that will change everything: Priceless
My friend, Dianna, gave me a picture of us with a quote from C.S. Lewis that states, "In friendship...we think that we have chosen our peers. In reality, a few years different in the date of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university over another...the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting --- Any of these chances might have kept us apart. But for a Christian, there are strictly speaking, no chances. A secret Master of Ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to His Disciples, 'Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you', can truly say to every group of Christian friends, (and I'd venture to say other friends as well), 'Ye have not chosen one another, but I have chosen you for one another'. The friendship is not a reward for discriminating and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument by which God reveals to each the beauties of others."
I think of friends, old and new, and how many "coincidences" led to us meeting, and am amazed and how blessed I am. I am so grateful for being placed in each others' paths. (And I am grateful that they are worth more than gold because, sheesh, the ability to end up in their path certainly is costing a lot of gold.)