Concerning Friends

If you search for quotes about friend(ship), you will find lots of pithy cute quotes. While all of them may be true, having and being a true friend goes far beyond one sentence quotes. Some friendships endure time, distance, good times, and bad times, arguments, marriages, children, divorces; others never make it past the first disagreement. What makes a good friend? I can’t honestly answer that question, because I don’t know. Some women are still friends with girls they met in Kindergarten; some women seem to gather up friends like sunshine on a clear day and drop them just as fast.

My mother was one of the latter. She would spurn friends at the drop of a hat if they did or said something she didn’t agree with. And after that, she would never mention them again. She was also a very selfish woman who thought everything revolved around her. If it rained when she wanted to have a barbecue, the gods were against her; if the item she wanted in the store was out of stock, the store did it on purpose because they knew she wanted it. I think you get the drift.

When I was growing up, we moved a lot. So I went to a new school every couple of years. The constant moving made it hard to make and keep friends. When I was a teenager, I did make friends, and when I moved yet again, we promised to keep in touch. And we did for a while. But then my letters went unanswered and I felt rejected and alone once again. After I finished high school, we moved yet again, this time across a huge ocean; keeping in touch seemed impossible, and it was.

Nursing school, marriage, kids, all gave me new friends, but they, too, disappeared as fast as they appeared, and for many and varied reasons. Then one day, I started to wonder if there was something wrong with me that nobody would stay friends with me. It took me a long time to realize that there was nothing wrong with me. Friends are friends for as long as they need to be. People come into our lives, and leave or not, depending on what it is we need at that point in our lives or on what it is they need from us at that point in their lives.

Recently, thanks to the wonders of technology and social media, I have re-found some of those old friends. We have had fun catching up on each other’s lives, but it’s difficult to pick up where we left off after some 40 or more years of going our own ways. And again, because of technology and social media, I have made a lot of new friends over the last 10-15 years. I may never actually meet them in person, and I don’t make friends with just anyone. Some of us met on one site, and migrated together to another; some of us have stayed on the same site. We have laughed and cried, shared each other’s misfortunes and down times, shored each other up when necessary, and supported each other through death, divorce, heartbreak, and new adventures. Our backgrounds are varied; and if we had met in person first, we may never have become friends.

So maybe that’s what true friends are: people who support you no matter what; people who will laugh with you, cry with you, commiserate with you; and give you a kick in the butt when you need it.

Friends

It is during difficult times that we learn who our friends are. They are the people who show up at your door, or call you, as soon as they hear of a problem; they are the ones who sit silently holding your hand while they listen to your rants or your tears; they are the ones who let you be who you are without trying to change you, but will tell you what they really think without adding sugarcoating to make it more palatable. Friends will pull you along to where you need to be; they will support you even if they think you’re wrong; but they will also be honest. Friends who disappear when you need them are not true friends.