It has been so many years since I last visited Birmingham - 1984, I think. When I was 11 years old, my class at school wrote to a 5th grade class in Birmingham, England. Stephanie was the girl assigned as my correspondent, and we just happened to continue writing to each other long after we finished the 5th grade. There were many years in between when we weren't in contact at all, so it's even more amazing that we are still in touch. Her mother (I believe) found a box of my old letters in their attic one day and passed them on to Stephanie. Stephanie wrote to me at my old address (where my parents still lived) and of course I replied.
Stephanie married her high school sweetheart and they were probably one of the best-suited couples I have ever known. I met Eddy when I traveled to England in the 1980s and again when Steph & Eddy came to the U.S. during their many holiday trips. As we were reminiscing, I couldn't believe how many little details she remembered from those previous visits. Being there with her was slightly bittersweet as we drank a toast to her husband (who passed away last year after a battle with ALS), but I was so inspired by her strength. She was the one who cared for him at home during his last months.
Well, of course meeting up with old friends is so emotional and satisfying - I never wanted our time together to end. Their home is beautiful and I stayed in Stephanie's luxurious guest room for the next three nights. I was lucky to catch her at home, since she was between travels. In truth, I scheduled my itinerary around her availability and I'm so glad I did, since I wouldn't have missed seeing her for all the world.