What friends give:
A phone call, a smile, an idea. A book.
Encouragement, a reality check, advice.
A listening ear – they share your successes.
An open heart – they feel your pain.
Tears of joy; tears of sadness; tears of thanks.
Sometimes I forget how fortunate I am. I have many friends, near and far, and they are woven into the fabric of my being. Many years ago, when I was going through a difficult time, I was asked to name one positive thing about myself. In my infinite naivity, I said I was a good friend. And I do believe that is the case. If you are my friend, I would do anything for you, even if that anything is nothing. I suppose I think this makes me a good person – or this is a reflection of who I am – a good person. And, yes, it does make me feel good.
But what I fail to realise most of the time is that, really, I am a reflection of how my friends treat me. I have one friend who has the power to make me smile – no matter what I’m going through. She doesn’t really need to say much, but she always says exactly the right thing, and it is that thing that makes me smile. She doesn’t do it on purpose; she doesn’t try to make me smile. But she always manages to do it. How fortunate am I that she is in my life?
I have another friend who always takes the time to check in with me. I’ll realise I haven’t seen or spoken to this friend in ages and I’ll feel sad. But do I ring or text? Never before she does. And then it’s not about ‘can you do this?’ or ‘I need that’; ‘I haven’t heard from you in ages and I wanted to hear what you are up to’ is the reason she gives for contacting me. And then we’ll talk for hours catching up. And my own heart swells when I put down the phone. How fortunate am I that she is in my life?
There is another friend; she brings me books. She listens to my chronic complaining about work and tries her damnedest to help me find solutions. When she doesn’t have the solution herself, she recommends books. These may be novels or biographies or self-help books. She will try to point me in a particular direction. Once, out of the blue, she brought me a beautiful book back from her vacation. Where she was thinking about me. Even all those many miles away, she thought of me and said to herself, “Debbie would like that.” And she didn’t only think it; she purchased it, transported it and gifted it to me. I hadn’t known it, but it was just what I needed just when I needed it. How fortunate am I that she is in my life?
These are just recent examples. There have been many others, friends who have come and gone; friends who have stayed. With some I have shared joy. With some I have shared pain. From each one I have learned. I have learned what it is I need to feel fulfilled. I have learned what I appreciate from others – how I like to be treated. I have learned that it is ok to be me. Most importantly from them, I have learned how to treat others; how to be a good friend – and therefore, how to be a good person. And this is how my friends have woven themselves into my being. I can be alone and struggling and I can bring one of these people to mind and feel their warmth and comfort, even when they aren’t with me. And that, my friend, gives me the most important thing that friends can give: hope. Hope that I can manage through; hope that I will not always feel like this; hope that things will get better in the knowledge that I will never be alone.