Saturday night my phone rang; I stopped surfing blogs and answered it. I have call-display so I already knew that it was either my friend who must be visiting her daughter and grand-baby in Nova Scotia or it was my friend’s daughter herself, telling me she’s coming through my way soon and could she stop for a visit. Either option was fine with me as I love them both.
It was my friend. She was heading back home on Sunday after spending a few days soaking up the shining rays of baby love from her adorable grand daughter, and she wanted to know if I’d be home at 11 o’clock Sunday morning. I said, sure, I’d be home…I might even be up! And I made sure I was. Up and showered and dressed and the bathroom sink cleaned, all before 11. Wow!
She arrived and we sat down in my living room for a chat. We never stopped talking the entire time she was here and could have gone on talking for many more hours without stopping if she hadn’t had to head home to celebrate her wedding anniversary with her husband (poor excuse, I thought…).
But we had such a nice catch-up chat. We talked about her children and my children, my daughter’s wedding plans for next year, my recent trip to Ontario and my upcoming cruise to Hawaii, her mother’s health issues which are now thankfully in control and about a recent death in her extended family. Plus we discussed weight and yoga and protein shakes and family reunions and bathroom renovations and looked at digital pictures of her grand baby.
It’s always like that with us; we can be apart for several months, not speak on the phone for several weeks, yet when we do get together we pick up our conversations as if we had just paused for a few moments to swallow a sip of tea or a gulp of wine. When you think about it, that’s quite amazing.
Have you ever stopped to consider how fortunate you are if you have even a few good friends in this world? I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately, and figured it is high time that I share with you some of my thoughts about a few of the friendships I am lucky enough to have.
I first met the friend who visited me on Sunday in 1975 when we ended up in the same city due to our husband’s job transfers, but in 1976 my friend and her husband were transferred again, to another province. Other than that one year, over thirty-five years ago, we have never lived in the same city and most times haven’t even lived in the same province. But our friendship endured over the years anyway and we continue to enjoy each other’s company whenever we manage to get together for a few hours or a few days. She is one of my dearest friends and we have made plans to meet again in December.
Another best friend of mine is also someone I’ve known for a long time. Again we met because of a husband’s job transfer, and again we only lived in the same town for a relatively short time, but we clicked right away and since then have spent a lot of time together. We are both ‘crafty’ by nature and love to share our creative interests with each other. When we shop together we don’t head to the fashion stores or shoe shops; we spend our time and money at craft supply stores and unique gift shops and even hardware stores if they happen to have a ‘craft’ section tucked away in a back corner.
My husband and her husband also became best friends and the four of us vacationed together, celebrated birthdays and anniversaries together, mourned together when a beloved parent or pet died and spent many evenings together talking and laughing until the wee small hours of the night would finally nudge us to our beds.
When Gary died in December of 2009 these friends were with me, ready to hold me and support me and cry with me. I am an extremely fortunate woman to have them in my life.
One of my close friends isn’t close at all—she’s in central Canada and I’m on the east coast, but that doesn’t matter. I spent a few days with her in September when I made a trip to Ontario to visit my daughter and we picked up as if we had just seen each other the week before. I’ve only known this friend for nine years but she is good for me and I am good for her. Even though we are very different, our personalities complement each other somehow. We always have tons to chat about and laugh about and cry about and if that isn’t true friendship I don’t know what is. This friend thinks I am the ‘funny’ one and I think she is the ‘thoughtful’ one so together we are funny and thoughtful—a grand combination! I know it will be several months before we can visit again but in the meantime we talk on the phone once a week and correspond via email whenever a tidbit or problem or joke needs to be shared. I love this friend and cherish our friendship.
And what about my wonderful friend who is more than a friend, who is a sister-in-law? To me, that fact is a perk, ‘icing on the cake’, as an old expression goes. I feel extremely close to my sister-in-law and I count her as one of my very best friends in the world. She and my brother live almost on the other side of Canada from me, in Alberta, so we only manage to visit with each other a few times a year but when we are together—watch out! We are a force to be reckoned with—just ask my brother and I’m sure he will verify this. For example, we like to play Mario Kart for hours on end and he isn’t a fan of that, but he knows his only choices are to put headphones on and listen to CBC radio or his own playlist on his iPod or use that time to do yard work (in the summer) or curl up by the fire for an afternoon nap (in the winter).
My sister-in-law and I also share an absurd sense of humour and we readily amuse each other. I’m not sure if anybody else finds us comical but we crack each other up and enjoy a lot of laughs together. We are also both aspiring writers working on novels and ebooks and we encourage each other by offering critiques and suggestions when asked. I like what she writes and she likes what I write so together we are our own mutual-admiration society. But we are honest with our critiques and really try to comment objectively; we don’t shy away from saying….hmm, I’m not sure about that sentence, or paragraph, or verb tense, or whatever we think could be improved upon. We want the best for each other, and that, to me, is another sign of true friendship. We’re going on a cruise together this fall and I look forward to making more memories with her.
I have several other close friends as well, friends that I can call at a moment’s notice if I need help or advice or a shoulder to cry on. Or I can call them just to chat or to arrange a lunch-date or a happy-hour get-together. These friends live near me and they are a big part of the reason why I’m staying where I am for now. They are important to me.
So what makes a friendship special? Is it sharing the same ideas and ideals, is it being able to cry with that person without feeling awkward or embarrassed or apologetic, is it building a history and shared memories together? What makes certain friendships last for eons while others fizzle out like a firecracker with a defective fuse?
And what happens if a friend hurts you? How much hurt is okay and how much is too much for the friendship to survive? I believe that the only person who knows the answer to this question is the one going through the situation at the time and that each circumstance will be unique. One of my fellow bloggers recently rode an emotional roller-coaster when her best friend betrayed her by doing something that could never be forgiven; it’s not necessary to share the details here, but that blogger’s pain was real and deep and I’m sure that many of her readers cried along with her when she blogged about it.
I know that sometimes I am careless and thoughtless and not as good a friend as I should be to those I care about, but as far as I know I have never betrayed anyone and up to now my friends have forgiven me for my shortcomings. I am grateful to them for that.
In the end I think that friendships are living, breathing organisms that need to be fed and held up to the sunlight. I think they need to be nurtured so they will remain healthy and grow to be old along with us and I think they can encompass the best qualities of each person involved in the friendship.
I really hope that my friends consider me someone they want to keep in their inner sanctums until we are no more. That’s a worthwhile hope, right?