Seriously…what would we do without our friends?
Everyone, if they are lucky, is surrounded by all sorts of people in their lives. We have parents, hopefully for a long time, though sometimes they are taken from us far too early. They are the ones that shape us. Our very first role models, our first protectors, our first teachers. They love us unconditionally, and are a presence in our lives whether they live next door, across the country, or in Heaven.
Grandparents, very special people who have so much wisdom to share and are able to love us just as much as our parents do without the burden of having to discipline us. The life lessons they have to teach us are more about experiences and advice than behaviour and manners. Times with grandparents are to be especially cherished if you have them, because many people don’t. I was extremely lucky to have met three of my grandparents, the one I didn’t get a chance to meet I missed by two weeks. He passed away shortly before I made a trip to Malta to meet him and my Grandmother for the first time. My other Grandfather I was blessed to have in my life until I was 18 years old. I miss him every day. Words can not describe how wonderful he was. My only surviving grandparent is my 85 year old grandmother, whom I love and am truly grateful for her good health and independent lifestyle.
We have siblings, whom if we are lucky, we are close to. Sometimes for whatever reasons, we aren’t, and this can be hard. Sometimes because of age differences, or with the rate of second marriages being so high, we grow up apart from each other, and we don’t get as close as perhaps we should.
And then our children. The centre of our lives. The apple of our eye. The cream in our coffee. The little munchkins that we love even if they dump the box of cereal on the kitchen floor or press the button on the water cooler and get water all over the place – speaking from experience? Hardly! 😉 They are the ones that we try to shape into the people we wish we could be. Try to discourage them from making all the mistakes in life that we made. Try to grow them up to be a person that doesn’t just take up space, but actually makes a place for themselves in this world.
Then we have the more complicated people. Spouses and relationship people. People who are in our lives because we choose them, not because we are born into the same family. If you’re truly lucky, your spouse is also your friend. I’m so blessed that way. We invite them into our lives and hope they stick around and hope we stick around forever. We have made a commitment to them, whether it is on paper, in front of a priest or other religious figure, or just to each other in whatever way – and there are some creative ways. These people often bring a host of other people with them into your life – I’m referring to the in-laws. Sometimes good, sometimes not so good. Overall, I have been blessed in this area as well.
All the people I have mentioned above are tied to us in one way or another. I know there are exceptions to every rule. I know there are people that are estranged from their parents or grandparents or siblings for whatever reason and do not feel tied to them at all. There are single people who do not have a commitment with another person to spend their lives together, or even a short time together, and to see how it goes. Mostly, I’m drawing from my own experiences.
But the title of this blog was “Friendship” wasn’t it? Sorry, I’ve been babbling on so long that I’ve forgotten. Our friends are the mud. Sounds nice, doesn’t it? What I mean is, they are the mud that fills in the cracks in our lives. Have a bad relationship with a sibling or troubles with the spouse? Our friends are there to fill in that gap and help us to feel fulfilled. Even if it is just by being there to help us through the tough times. We don’t sign any piece of paper or make any oath for friendship. There is no ceremony. (Unless you’re part of the YaYa Sisterhood). They are just there. They don’t run at the first obstacle, though technically they could, as they don’t really have any blood or legal ties to us. They listen when we need them, pick up the phone at four in the morning and try to act like they were awake anyway, and still come back for more.
My mother once said to me that she could tell who I was talking to on the phone just by the way my tone of voice was, what phrases I used, without hearing a name. Mind you, she was observant and very interested in my life and what I was doing, but I like to think that this is because each of my friends bring out a part of who I am. I expose different sides of myself to each friend, but each side I show is a true, authentic version of myself. I’m not trying to, that is just the part of me that they draw out.
I have a friend that has been my BF since I was five years old. I had dinner with her last night. I know how fortunate I am to have her in my life. We have been a constant thread in each other’s lives since then. Our lives have moved much in the same direction often as we got married within a couple years of each other, bought houses within a year or so of each other, and our boys are about five months apart. We’re very different in a lot of ways, but alike in the things that matter and I think of her as a sister.
I have other friends that I met in high school, some of whom I keep in contact with quite regularly, and others mostly through social networking (Facebook, etc.) Some of these friends are among my bestest ones and I have very strong, very real ties with them. They know who I am and we have grown up together.
Then there are the friends that I have met after high school. Most of these are couples, who Joe and I have met together and formed friendships with. We don’t always get to seem them as often as we would like, as life gets very busy when you have jobs and kids and everything else, but these friends are special because they add a whole new dimension to your life. A sense of fun, a kind of adult companionship that comes with getting to know people as the person you are now. There is a much different side of yourself to give to friendships such as these. Sometimes you meet someone and you just click from the beginning. You understand each other, you find each other funny, and you love spending time together. Friendships like that are truly a gift.
Unfortunately in life, people move on, become absorbed with what is going on with them, perhaps meet new friends or family, and you can grow apart. This can be hard, and can come as a surprise when you think that there is no way that could ever happen. You’ll be meeting for coffee and swapping rheumatism stories for sure. Of all the people in my life, I am sure of this person and I know that we will always be as close as we are now. Time goes on and all of a sudden you look up and you’ve grown apart. You talk maybe once every six months and see each other even less often. Aside from the big events, you really don’t know what’s going on in their lives and they haven’t a clue about yours. When you do see each other, you’re so busy getting caught up on the trivial things, that you don’t even really scratch below the surface much anymore. You might not know exactly where it happened, but there was a definite shift somewhere, and now you’re really more acquaintances.
It can be easy to get bitter about stuff like this, especially when you don’t really know who is to “blame.” Often times, there really is no one to blame. It’s just life. When you put it in perspective, you’ll see that every friend that is in your life or was in your life is there for a reason. Each person fills one of our needs for friendship in a different way. Friendship should not be forced. You shouldn’t hang out with someone just because you’ve been friends forever. It’s a two way street and you should have a reason for wanting to be there for that person. If there really are no issues to be resolved, no real bad feelings toward the person, no big fight and lots of bad things said to be sorry for, then maybe it’s just time to take that friendship for what it is, be grateful for what you have gained from it, and let it be. Perhaps one day life with steer you both back to each other again. Perhaps not.
Either way, when you count your blessings, count each of your friends as one. Know that they probably count you as one too. They are the chosen, no contract, most wonderful mud in life.
“I would rather walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.” — Helen Keller