I think a lot about the nature of friendships. Why they form, the seasons of them, what makes for good friends, why some ‘logical choices’ for friends don’t really click, yet unlikely friendships form and last… that sort of thing.
I think we use the term friend very casually nowadays – in the Facebook era, everyone is a friend – but it started much earlier than that. There was a time (in centuries past) when calling someone friend was a high honor, and a responsibility not to be taken lightly. I use the term in a sense somewhere in between, I think.
I have a great many acquaintances. Some of them are very good acquaintances – almost friends. I am friendly with more people than I can count. But friends…I have a very few of those, and I cherish them dearly. I want to tell you about a couple of my friends. I asked them if I can talk about them and they said yes. I hope they don’t regret it, and I hope I don’t ruin my keyboard with the weepies. 🙂
The first is Mandy. She gets to go first because I met her first. We were in college together and her sister was my BFF. I knew her. We were friendly almost-friends. And we lost touch. No big deal. Then, she auditioned for a group I sang with. We sat together for rehearsals, talked together after rehearsals, and chatted online with the advent of instant messaging. I talked to her almost every day, even though we saw each other only once a week most weeks. We shared every commiseration and every joy. She was my Best Friend. One of my favorite (albeit drug-blurred) memories of her is when I was in the hospital. I had had an abdominal surgery and she came to visit. She and Hubby Mike had me laughing so hard my stitches burned like fire. But I couldn’t stop laughing – those jokes are forgotten, but the remembrance will always be there. That she took time out of her schedule to come and see me, and help me see the funny side to…well, whatever it was we were talking about. But of course she came. That is what friends do, with no question! And then… the seasons of life… we both left the group around the same time. We still talked but not so much because her job got busier and she wasn’t at the computer as often. I started running the kids around a little more. She lives only 40 minutes away, but when our kids are in separate school systems, our activities don’t really line up. We will meet for lunch maybe a few times a year, and try to catch up. And when we meet, it’s like the years fall away, and we pick up wherever we left off. We can still laugh and joke and share commiserations and joys. And I know, because she’s a keeper, that I can ask anything of her, and she will be there. Even though it has been 6 months since I saw her last. I am looking forward to our next lunch – sooner than 6 months, I hope! 🙂
The second is Eileen. I call her my Bestie. This is one of those unlikely friendships. We first got to know each other because, well – she’s a LOT younger than me, and when she was in high school, she babysat my kids. Then she went off to college. And we kept in touch. I’m not exactly sure why, but I am so, so glad that we connected. Yes, we have a love of the arts in common (she’s an actor, I’m a singer) but I know lots of artists my own age, and I don’t like them nearly so much! We laugh a lot when we’re together – A LOT. She is extroverted, and I am not. We balance each other. Because we are both artists, she gets it when I have the “I suck and shouldn’t be allowed to sing” Blues. And says back to me, ” You are stunning! You are great! Now suck it up sister, and keep at it!” and I do the same for her. Over the years, she has moved hither and yon, traveled on tour and been a flight attendant. I called to say, “I am thinking of you and I can’t wait to see you again!” on the tours that were really rough, knowing that she couldn’t necessarily call back, but that was okay. She called when she could. This is a friendship that could so easily have drifted into acquaintanceship any number of times, but didn’t. I am thankful beyond measure for her. She is a keeper.
I love all my friends and I don’t know what I would do without them. I am glad I have these and a few other keepers. I am thankful for the friends I have been granted for a season, and I have grieved in the realization that the end of a season has come. To each and every one, my heart silently quotes an over-sung song, “Because I knew you, I have been changed For Good.” (A song that Mandy and I sang together on recital once, so of course, I will love it forever, no matter how over-done it is.)