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Published: Sunday, 2/9/2003

Best buddy won't need a valentine to feel loved

How do we measure friendship?

Surely it's more than a valentine shoved into an envelope and sent off with a Love stamp in the upper right corner.

The card racks have been filled with valentines since the Christmas cards went away for another year.

A large percentage of the Feb. 14 greetings are designated for friends. Examples: To My Special Friend, My Best Friend, A Friend Who Means the World to Me, Your Friendship is a Treasure, etc. These cover lines are followed by syrupy verses that no doubt have been chosen carefully and are appreciated by the friend on the other end.

Isn't it exasperating that there never seems to be just the right verse among the hundreds of cards on display? Whether it's for Valentine's Day, a birthday, or even divorce congratulations, which are now available, somehow the greeting card authors often miss what we want to convey.

The valentine selected in early January for my best friend doesn't say “friend” at all. The card reads “Happy Valentine's Day to my best always buddy.” Buddy is a good word for the person who has been with you through tears and laughter, who you know you can depend on whether it's to listen to your troubles or share a slice of mocha cheesecake with raspberries.

A buddy holds your hand in deep water.

A buddy adds a little breath to help a buddy blow out the birthday candles and silently wishes for many more birthdays and candles together.

A buddy knows how to make sweet lemonade when life throws in a lemon.

A buddy doesn't need a journal or a photo album to recall the happy, carefree times that are just waiting to be repeated.

A buddy takes you to the airport at 4 a.m. in sub-zero weather.

A buddy understands it's OK to get mad, and never expects you to say you're sorry.

A buddy tells you the new dress is not your style, or that your hairstyle is outdated.

Between best friends, one rose is as meaningful as a dozen.

A best friend doesn't take the other person's favorite candy flavor from the valentine box.

A buddy goes to a movie you want to see even though she, or he, has seen it twice.

You can call your buddy at midnight and know she will wake up, prop herself with pillows, prepared to talk until the wee hours about your problem.

Private jokes just between two buddies remain private forever. Telling outsiders would spoil the fun.

And so, my best-always buddy, I will put your valentine in the mailbox tomorrow. It will have a Love stamp in the corner, and I will probably scratch a personal, gushy note. But anyone can do that. It's no big deal to send a card.

For others who are fortunate to sweeten their lives with a truly best friend, Valentine's Day is observed every day through kindness, self-sacrifice, and unselfish love.

To those who don't have a buddy to tell them the red dress they are planning to wear Feb. 14 is too tight, I'm sorry you have been cheated out of one of life's greatest gifts. It's a matter of finding the right person, then taking care of the choice. Friendships must be nurtured.

To my best-always buddy, thanks for always being there. Does it matter that we can't remember how many years? Friendship can't be measured.

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