Archive for December 23rd, 2009

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The Value of Friendship

2009/12/23

It’s funny how people come and go through our lives sometimes. If you are really lucky, you get to spend a lifetime in the company of someone you can call your friend, but most of the time they are passing ships in the night. They come into your life on a breeze of whimsy, and one day you realize just how long it’s been since you last saw them. It’s just the nature of our transient lives, I guess. Jobs, relationships, the vagaries of fate, they all ebb and flow around us, bringing people in and taking them away with the same twist.

Long ago I learned to accept this part of life. I make sure to treasure the time I have been given with someone, and I am always sure to let them know what they mean to me. Their time in my life is often short, but I never want anyone to walk away from their time with me without letting them know how I feel. I never want them to question their value in or to my life. And while I am sad when our ways have to part, I am glad for the time they gave to me.

Friendship is a tricky thing. To create a level of trust between strangers, sometimes greater than that of our own family, is a dangerous minefield. But the rewards can be so incredible that we are willing to risk it all for that one opportunity. Two people thrown together by chance, developing a bond of friendship that can withstand the pressures of the world around them is a beautiful and often overlooked thing. And one that can last for years on end is more precious and valuable than the most perfect gem.

I learned the value of friendship from my mother. I always wondered at the way she could welcome others into her heart without a moment’s hesitation, always be glad for their company, even when years and miles separated her from them. And I spent a significant portion of my life witnessing one of those rare and precious friendships that spanned a lifetime. My mother and her best friend shared their lives and their hearts and their families with one another. So much so that the lines became blurred, and it was hard to tell the difference for those around them.

I was a teenager before I discovered, completely by accident, that my godmother was not my mother’s sister. While doing a project in my Spanish class, I innocently asked, “So, where do I put Aunt Lu and Uncle Tommy on our family tree?” My mother’s family was unique, and I had always assumed that Aunt Lu was just another sibling in Mom’s bizarre chain of family relations. After all, we spent holidays together, we took vacations together, they visited my great grandmother, they took care of my brother and me when our baby brother was born…how could they not be family? And Mom told me that sometimes, if you are very lucky, you will have a friend who is so special that they can become your family. My Mom, and in turn, our family, was blessed with this kind of luck.

That blessing was also extended to me. I have shared much of my lifetime with a very good friend. And though the miles and our hectic lives have often come between us, when we get that all too brief time together, it’s almost as though no time has passed, and we’ve been there all the while. The comfort and support that can be found in a friendship such as ours truly is a gift, and I count myself fortunate for every moment.

My reflective side was triggered this morning thanks to the birthday of another treasured friend. He is one of those bright shining lights in this world, bringing sunshine and comfort wherever he goes. From the moment he came bounding in my life, I have felt blessed. He’s been struggling through a series of difficult transitions lately, but he never seems to fail in finding the light in everything, and his smile warms the hearts of everyone around him.

I wish for him, on this anniversary of his blessed birth, a lifetime of sharing that marvelous heart with the world, so that his joy for life can go out and come back to him in the form of the love of the many friends he has delighted through his time with us on this earth. And to all my friends, both near and far, both present and past, and all those friendships yet to be had, may the love you give in the name of friendship be returned to you tenfold through the friends you make.

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