Friends...how many of us have them? That is a question an old rap song by artist Whodini, asks us. When I was younger I used to think everyone does. As I got older I learned that sadly this is not true. Some people confess to having no friends at all.
One of my favorite poets, Ralph Waldo Emerson, said "The only way to have a friend is to be one." I find this to be very true. Friendship is a two way street. Today is the birthday of a dear friend of mine. We met, as many people who become friends meet, at work.
I will always recall something she said to me in the early stages of what would become a more than twenty year friendship. She said something to the effect of "I was hoping I see something in you that proved what I had been told, that you are the best at your job." She was referring to my boss's statement about my work ability. I know she worded it differently but she was completely right. Up until that point I probably had not been giving my new position 100%. Her honesty, down to earth and extremely kind heart drew me to her.
I knew that we were more than co-workers when we began to socialize outside of the work place and not just for drinks. She drew me into the world of boxing, sisterhood (she is one of three lovely sisters that I had the privilege to get to know) and so much more. Her no nonsense, yet loyal and dedicated approach at work and home would have a great influence on me in later years.
We worked together for close to five years, both thriving in our chosen career. But then I left the company, eventually the business and finally I even left the state we lived in. Yet, not before we both experienced a bond with three other beautiful people, meeting for dinners, happy occasions and support during the tragic events of September 11th. We had other friends in common as well and that showed me that we were drawn to similar people.
We kept in touch when I moved, via email, social media, cards in the mail, little gifts. I tried my best to be there for her when one of her beautiful sisters passed away too young, leaving my friend devastated. When I first became a grandmother she was one of the few who celebrated the occasion. While others were more subdued by the fact that my daughter was a teenage mother, my friend sent me a little magnet that read "Grandmas are Moms with a lot of frosting." It meant more than she probably knew. Well my friend is a friend with a lot of frosting. Now that she is a mother, her beautiful daughter will be lucky to get all of my friend's sweetness.
I am grateful and fortunate to have many friendships. Still there are only a few I consider very close to my heart. Like any relationship, friendship is a give and take equation. I am not referring to physical gifts. I am referring to the gifts of time, love, support and encouragement. My relationship with my friend, whose birthday I celebrate today one thousand miles away, has grown stronger over the years despite the distance. I cherish her being in my life, as I do my other friends and I truly hope she knows that.
This past year I feel as if I have been less than a stellar friend. This is due in part to the many changes that occurred in my life and my ability to finally create some boundaries in my relationships. At first I felt guilty about not being available and taking time out for myself but then I realized my true friends have remained throughout and that giving each other space is one of the gifts we can offer one another. I hope to see my friend in 2014 when I travel her way. Until then we will "see" each other through good and bad times, offering support, laughter and most importantly ourselves. For it is who we truly are that draws a person to want to be your friend.
So don't fake a friendship. Give of yourself and if a person truly cares about you they will reciprocate. Remember though, friendship is not based on how much each one does for the other. Friendship is about accepting each other as we truly are. Sometimes we may not offer up our "best" but a true friend will call you out on it and hopefully your friendship will grow and you will both have a laugh about the good old days.
Happy birthday to a woman I admire very much and am profoundly grateful to call "my friend."