Tuesday, February 13, 2007

FRIENDSHIP RE-DEFINED


Friend: One who entertains for another such sentiments of esteem, respect, and affection that he seeks his society and welfare; a well-wisher; an intimate associate; sometimes, an attendant.

The meaning of friendship varies and fluctuates from childhood to adulthood. A toddler views a friend as anyone who shows up to play on the playground; perfect strangers welcome. In elementary school, friends tend to be classmates and neighbors; daily playmates for better or worse. Older kids give the title of friend to those they “hang out with.” Even moving on into young adulthood, friends are the people that one shares time with, laughs with, cries with and grows with.

Most of us hold onto some of these earlier friendships like a pair of well worn jeans; they fit well and feel good, in spite of the changing shape of our lives. I suppose I have always thought of friends as those who know me intimately, those I have created a history with, the ones I’d be comfortable calling in a crisis.

Living in a small town and raising several children creates a large circle of faces that are as familiar as the street signs that lead to home. This circle of parents, connected through their children, range from casual to friendly, all I would have formerly defined as “acquaintances.”

My daughter belongs to a “girls group” that meets once a month to explore a deeper level of relating; soul sisters that go beyond the somewhat frivolous and clicky relationships found in the classroom. The theme this month is Friendship. A local musician, mom and recording artist will be visiting to sing a song that she wrote for the group, based on a collection of their individual definitions of a friend. When I asked Cadence what made a person a friend, her definition was clear and concise. “A friend is someone who stands by you and helps pick you up when you are down.” The truth in her words was very real for me recently.

The definition of friendship has broadened for me in the last couple of weeks. As I moved through the emotional ups and downs regarding my dad’s health and surgery, I decided I needed to go to be with him and time was surely of the essence. I booked by flight and 35 hours later was headed to the airport. Anyone with three children and a full time job can tell you that it takes more than a village to pull this off. I was so incredibly moved and overwhelmed by the kindness of people that I formerly titled “acquaintance” who stepped forward with offers of rides, of taking my children for the week, of caring for my pets and with prayers.

Writers from east to west, some of whom I met once and others not at all rallied with words of encouragement, support and “winged prayers.” It became so crystal clear to me that “friendship” is more than a history, more than intimate knowledge. Friendship is about stepping up to the front lines when life is hard. It is offering in kindness the tangible and intangible that makes another feel cared for. “It is someone who stands by you and helps pick you up when you are down.” I am incredibly blessed for all of my friends and thank you for standing by.

4 comments:

Carrie Wilson Link said...

Lovely, Nancy. It's the law of attraction, kindness draws kindness, etc. Your intention was to go and help your father and family, you attracted others wanting to help you help them. Love when this happens!

Terry Whitaker said...

I just love the line "as familiar as the street signs on the way home". It totally got me.

Jerri said...

Beautifully written, Nancy. Along with Carrie, I'm struck by the truth of the law of attraction and how it worked here.

Blessings to you and your dad.

Susan McDuffie, LMFT said...

Friends are a wonderful thing and I am glad to be able to in fact call YOU a friend. Happy Friendship Month!