Today as I was walking along the Monon I got a chance to think about what it means to have friends. I’ve been blessed to have a great many friends in my life and I have had some of those friends for many, many years. This past weekend I had a friend drive down from Michigan to spend time with me. It was during my walk this afternoon that I realized just how much I value her friendship.
This friend, Julie, is more than just a friend. She picked a time of the year to come and visit because she knows it’s not the best time of year for me. She remembers how tough it can get. So I would imagine you would think she must know what it’s like to lose a child. To be able to have such insight, but she didn’t lose a child. She just knows how to be a true friend.
That got me to thinking how would you know what a true friend looks like. How have our past experiences taught us about friendship. I believe that friendship is far more important than we think. I believe we value friendship and probably always have, but what I also believe is that we take it for granted. How so? Oh we have our little friendship clubs, our girls night out, or little cliques at work that we hang out with, girls that we go shopping with.
But it the friends that stand by you when the going gets tough. Even though they don’t know what to say, they come and stand by you anyway. Even if it makes them feel uncomfortable. That is a true friend.
I think sometimes the hard part is recognizing when you are making friends, what type of friend will this person be. Will they be a socialite friend or one that you can count on. That they are your friend because of who you are, not what you are. How do you know? I mean how do we really know who our true friends are.
I thought I knew. A couple of times – I may have not been paying attention to the signs, but in the end I found out who my true friends where. The ones that despite how incredibily difficult it was to remain in my presence during a really hard time, they continued to stick by me. And I know it was very hard for them, because they didn’t know what to say. They didn’t know what to do. But they were there. Everyday. Calling me everyday. Remembering me on every holiday. Letting me know all the while that I mattered.
That they were my true friends, and I was their true friend for life. And that is what you do for people when they are grieving. Or when they have had a loss no matter what type of loss. When they are down, you don’t kick them and say “this is just too much for me to handle”. Because what you are saying is “I just can’t be your friend anymore.” That hurts more than you could possibly know.
What you can do is walk beside them, be a presence in their life and say I’m here. It’s really that simple. You can not fix them, nor can you always have the right thing to say or do. But just being there and acknowledging their existence is how to be a true friend.
until next time