Seven years is a long time. In fact, you would think that after that period of time, things would feel strange, even awkward, once you see each other again. But with my student Luta, it seemed as if no time had passed. You see, if you have developed a deep friendship, it doesn’t matter how long you are apart. You’re still friends.

Luta enrolled in my Advanced ESL class back in 2005, and in 2006 we started working on her memoir together. Over two years of working together we built a beautiful friendship. Seven years ago, Luta and her husband Remy returned to the Congo, and frankly, I didn’t know if I’d see them again.

It was true serendipity that they’d be in Durham, North Carolina visiting their son at the same time I would be visiting my friend Jen in Durham. It would be easy to stop by for a visit. I must admit that I wondered how this reunion would go since we’d essentially been incommunicado for seven years, but we immediately fell back into easy companionship. There were hugs all around before we settled into the living room to catch up on what had been going on in our lives.

I was used to asking Remy (an African History professor) about all things Congo, and when I asked about the recent election, he didn’t disappoint. He adopted his usual professorial style and fully covered the topic. As usual, I gained knowledge I wouldn’t have gotten anywhere else.

Eventually, the room cleared so Luta and I could do our friendship video for YouTube. We had so much fun doing it! How magical it was to capture the story of our special friendship on video. Of course we both wanted to go on longer, but the nearly 13 minute video was already getting too long for most YouTube viewers.

Luta couldn’t let me head to the airport without feeding me some of her delicious Congolese food. It tasted just as I remembered it – fantastic! We sat around the table sharing the meal, just as we had done so many times before. Time really does stand still.

Grab a cup of coffee or tea and take 13 minutes to watch the story of my special friendship with Luta.