Can you come? is the text I send her. My friend, Esther, with all her children and her big heart of gold. So she does. She hustles the children out of bed and through their chores, and piles them into the old suburban, and drives the hour and a half to spend the day with us. For his eleventh.

It’s what he asked for.

You don’t even have to buy me a present, Mom, if we could just have the Ratzlaff’s over for a day.

And the day is sweet and full. Laughter and dirt and movie-making and leeches from the dugout and kids in and out. And I visit my beautiful friend, whose wisdom and faith ever amazes me.

I agree with Carter, my oh-so-wise eleven-year-old boy.

Friendship is the best gift.