Lifelong Soul Friends: Carolyn & Debby
Carolyn Flinn McCool is the author of Finish Well.
Two girls in high school. A foreign country. Two souls tied by words. A friendship that endures.
Debby: Friendships that endure…that describes the ever-constant thread that binds my soul to that of my forever friend Carolyn. Aristotle said it best when he stated, “What is a friend? A single soul in two bodies.” When Carolyn and I first met well over 30 years ago at Kaiserslautern American High School in Germany, I remember seeing her in the school hallways with an ever-present smile. That smile imbued a sense of kindness, playfulness, and trust. I felt compelled to get to know this person. Our quick hellos immediately became brief mutual compliments – ‘Love your hair’ – ‘What a great outfit!’ This exchange would eventually lead us to longer discussions, where we learned that we had many things in common; a sincere appreciation and deep love of family; an appreciation for the power and impact of words; and shared experiences with falling in love and having our hearts broken by our high school boyfriends.
Carolyn: Debby has been my dear friend for over 30 years. We have both loved the written word in poetry or expression. I think words and emotions are part of Debby’s and my soul connection. We cherish true, deep, and meaningful interchange between people. We know we have something very special.
We knew very early in our lives that we would be friends forever. We even made a vow that we would take care of each other in our old age and sit on a porch in our rocking chairs together. We are not there, yet, but we have been on the porch many times in one another’s lives. We can talk about anything—and we do! We especially love rehearsing our crazy and fun times in Europe. We have a storehouse of memories.
Deb and I are most soulful when we express exactly the state of our hearts without fear. I don’t think either of us has been so bare and honest with anyone else. We use to sit on her bed in her bedroom and talk for hours about life and love and today it is just very easy to continue to do that—no matter how long time has passed from a visit, a note, or a call.
Debby: Carolyn and I would often muse during our long conversations, wondering if anyone else could possibly be as ‘deep’ as we were. For our depth of thinking was intense and profound. We felt older than our years in many of our contemplations. We had a firm grasp on what it was we wanted out of life. Forge ahead and take no prisoners, we’d say.
Actually, truth be told, I was more the instigator than Carolyn. To her credit she would often become my captive sidekick nervously laughing while we engaged in some of our more daring pursuits. Who else but your best friend would ‘Thelma and Louise’ their way through high school with you, I ask?
Carolyn: Debby was the leader in our friendship. I was the careful and more reserved one. I was never shy in my own right but Debby was electricity everywhere she went, plus she was drop dead gorgeous and boys flocked her way. Debby was the bold flavor in our mix! She always pushed the envelope while I tried to lick it shut. I was comfortable to follow the rules and she wanted to test them. We were an unlikely pair in some ways but our hearts were from near the same mold.
We loved to love. We were dreamers and achievers. My dad once told me one day when I was near sixteen that I was a lover, not a fighter. He saw the dream and desire for connection in me before I saw it in myself. My whole life has been about connecting. I have many wonderful soul connections, so many it was hard to decide who I wanted to tell you about. I treasure connecting soul to soul. When you do, if you graciously do the dance, you never see that person in the same light—or yourself. They, forever, are a part of your soul and existence.
Debby and I never had jealousy between one another. I marvel at that and sometimes I wonder why. She was far prettier, smarter, had scores of dates, funnier, and more confident than I. I was just glad to be someone whose heart she listened to and somehow she always made me feel valued and important. I really believe a soul relationship is much about communicating value to the other person.
One thing I have learned is if the other person does not feel valuable, they will suck the life out of the friendship. I never doubted Debby’s love and friendship—and she never doubted mine. I think that is one reason, anyway, why our friendship has been so endearing, need meeting, and lasting. Jealousy has the potential to destroy anything good you have or make with someone. Jealousy shows up in adults way more than we give credence to. It is the great relationship destroyer. If you can’t wish someone well or believe the best, forget about having anything with them.
Debby: It is hard to believe that so much living has passed between us. Even through college, marriages, children, and just life’s cascading rush of joys and heartache we have always been tethered together. Carolyn and I value our connection whether through phone calls or short visits and often marvel at how it seems as if no time has passed between us. In our hearts we are forever those fifteen-year-old teenage girls bound by our shared experiences, our secrets, dreams, and desires.
We came together during a time when our identities were forming—bringing with it strong emotional memories. But the one thing I appreciate most about our friendship is that we can tell each other anything without judgment. We accept each other for who we are, flaws and all, which validates our sense of self and more importantly reminds us that we matter. How many people even in marriage can honestly say they have such a level of trust without reservation?
Carolyn: We often can finish the other person’s sentence or sense the other’s thoughts. We feel so comfortable to express our wishes or displeasures, even if it means the other must adjust from our request.
We have always let each other just be who they are—even if we disagreed, we accepted. That was more than good enough for each of us.
I think a soulful friendship is when you bring yourself to a relationship naked and you leave clothed. You are clothed with a deeper sense of humility, a deeper respect, a reverence for being invited to share in this wonderful gift of life and love, a growing understanding of both yourself and someone else, and a hopeful view of your purpose in the relationship, as well as life in general.
Soulful relationships enhance who you are. In fact, they magnify who you are. Good soulful relationships that tenderly deal with your heart will create a satisfaction that your purpose has been fulfilled. Every relationship has its conflicts and struggles but not every relationship has tenderness. When you cannot look at another’s imperfections with tenderness, the relationship is in trouble already.
Debby: What a gift Carolyn has been to me all these many years. She possesses such a sweet soul and good heart. I love that we are growing old in this friendship of ours together. Once in a while, when I think of my forever friend, I still envision us as two little old ladies sitting together in rockers on an old wrap around porch. Our eyes show just a hint of a mischievous sparkle to match our conspiratorial chuckles as we reminisce about our youthful experiences.
Carolyn: Debby and I share whatever and whenever we can in life. She’s a busy lady with a grandchild. I have twin sons and lots of places I find my hand. We celebrated my birthday last year at a very special mountain resort in Colorado having a spa day. It was so much fun and for her birthday we went to Sedona, Arizona, recently. We are both talkers but we know when the other can use some silence. We both have a lot of joys and we believe we will share everything that comes into our lives together.