I will ask your forgiveness at the outset of this post for my sentimental remembrances of friendships that have been cornerstones to my uncharacteristic character and offer my advancing age as the only excuse for this mushiness. The time to give credit where credit is due has arrived and I can no longer keep them unvoiced in my head.
She knows who she is, the friend who risked her popularity to befriend me, a clear underdog in a harsh teen landscape. We bonded over cigarettes, painful childhood secrets which had never before been shared, and belly aching laughter that made the tears stream down our faces. I never understood why other girls were intimidated by her, but her protection saved me more than once and bullies steered clear of me for the first time in my life. She made loving gestures, surprising me with cards, posters, and even a birthday party. Her love helped me grow strong, confident, and free to be silly. She has downplayed her impact on my life when I have tried to impart how happy she made me. Have you ever noticed how generous people do that?
She knows who she is, the tenacious friend that I could not shake during the darkest period of my life. She did not run from my overwhelming grief over losing my infant son. It seemed to last forever and I gave her nothing, yet she expressed her love for me every single day of those two years. I wanted to be left alone with my pain, not even answering the phone most of the time. She would leave simple answering machine messages saying, “You don’t have to talk to me, but I am here if you want to. I just wanted to let you know I love you and am thinking of you today. Please let me know if you need anything and I will be there.” And she was there, even though I rarely let her know. She was the friend that loved me out of it, that helped me see that good still existed and it went by her name.
She knows who she is, the friend that shared her creativity and became a safe haven for mine. She encouraged me to write and found value in pieces that I believed were garbage. She is better than Strunk & White and was my first editor. Our visits are an encouraging fix for me that fill my creative well and result in positive forward motion. It is believed that friends are mirrors of our own selves. In her case, she is often my best self.
He knows who he is, the volunteer who recognized how overwhelmed I was and generously offered to help with whatever I allowed. Although he dislikes the term, he IS smart and shares his intelligence with me at a rate that my brain cannot absorb. The most valuable knowledge I have gained from his friendship is how happiness can be derived more so from life’s simple aspects such as nature, food, giving of oneself, camaraderie, and butter pecan ice cream than from temporary material goods. I now treasure my experiences and memories more than I did before I knew him. He is an interesting combination of stimulation and serenity. I hope that one day I can accept myself as wholly as he accepts me (and himself).
Lastly there are my two best friends, the one that gave me life and the other that gave me new life when she was born. Although bonded by blood and mother-daughter love, our friendship was not guaranteed, but we actually like one another. Our similar independent natures require that we each have differing views and personalities, yet no one could tell our cores apart. It is the personification of friends mirroring one another. They are both fiercely loyal, opinionated, and brutally honest. I know them like I know myself. We are like a stout tripod that cannot be tipped.
My public gushing may very well be influenced by my bouncing hormones, but my appreciation of my friends has always been there, unexpressed until now.