Thanksgiving and Christmas are when we focus on family, but this Thanksgiving I found myself thinking more of my friendships, and being grateful for them, as while we don’t choose our families, we do choose our friends. And seems I’ve chosen wisely in this arena. And of that I am so proud.
While I’ve made dubious choices in my life, found relationships with family members complicated and difficult, and struggled professionally on occasion, the one thing I have excelled at all through my 40-something years is friendship. Miraculously, I have chosen good and abiding friends, ones who have become friends for a lifetime, friends for the duration, through the often complex and perplexing peaks and valleys any one life will offer up any one of us.
The ties that bind us as friends are eternal. Something instinctive brought us together to go through this world with that particular friend’s hand of kindness and guidance on our shoulder. _____________ is that kind of friend.
As I got older, I found relationships and friendships with new people to be more transient, more disposable, less reliable. We incorporate different people to meet different needs at different times in our lives. And then we move on. I never thought that _____________ and I would forge the kind of friendship that can stand the test of time and last a lifetime.
When I met her, I thought she was the consummate professional woman: polished, accomplished and in charge of her world. We seemed to be so different; she had it all: a former beauty queen turned working mom with the all-American life, while I was more of a free-spirit in a whole other place, politically and socially, with no big plans other than to make some money and have a good time. I figured our lives had no great similarities, no big ties that would ever bind us. I never gave the thought of us becoming more than professional acquaintances a second thought.
And then something happened that drew us together: our lives got tough. Really tough. Our individual realities, different as they were, simply became harsh and unforgiving. Perfection and ease and reliability became non-existent at about the same time for us. _____________ and I found ourselves, side by side, struggling to make sense of some cruel twists and turns our lives had unexpectedly taken.
We had no other place to turn to make sense of it all other than by reaching out a hand of friendship to this other new person we’d met. Something instinctive took over and ____________ and I just started talking. And we talked and we talked and we talked. And we gathered the kids and visited and began to look out for one another.
Despite being subjected to the cruelest, harshest, deeply painful realities a woman will ever have to work through, her excessively painful divorce and the low points that brought ___________ down, way down on occasion, but never kept her there for long, __________’s amazingly kind and generous heart towards others never once let me down. And it’s never, ever let her kids down either. It is simply always there. It shines through the dark places.
While I know there were times in ____________'s life when she was blinded by the pain and suffering she was going through, and thus might have made unwise choices for herself. But never once has she ever made an unwise or unloving choice for anyone else in her life – not for those who depend on her, be it her many close and dear friends, nor for her children.
Since _____________ has been a friend to me, there’s never been a point where I would, for a moment, ever doubt her friendship. The reality is that sometimes we go for months without seeing each other when we get caught-up in the daily demands of being busy, stressed mothers with loads of various duties, and laundry, to juggle. But I know that should I ever need her to be there for me, to listen to me, to nod kindly, to encourage me through yet another of life’s extreme and unexpected milestones, she’d be there in a heartbeat, in a flash. She would just be there -- instinctively.
I’ve seen _____________, time and time again lay aside any and all of her pressing concerns to be there for me, a friend. She’s that kind of mother instinctively, but more so, she’s that kind of friend -- instinctively. And that is a rare quality; it is a unique gift she holds.
When others must question and deliberate and agonize over simple choices for themselves and for the family and friends in their lives, or they must rely on others to make those choices for them, ___________relies on her heart and her faith to show her where to go and how to love.
More importantly, she relies on a beautifully, soulful life and heart to care for the people in her life. I can’t think of any single person I’ve ever met who is more of a natural caregiver.
To sum it up, there are few people who govern their lives with the excess of humanity that ______________ shows on any given, ordinary day of her remarkable and courageous and persevering life -- be it as a mother or as a friend.