When you think about true friendship, what does that mean to you? Not so long ago, I would have said that true friendship is when someone is always there for you when you need them. I would have also probably jumped to the conclusion that it means someone I see, or at least talk to, on a regular basis. But recently, I’ve had a situation arise that made me stop and ponder the definition of true friendship.
I had just seen on Facebook that it was her daughter’s birthday that very day, so the daughter was on my mind, and I guessed the daughter next. When she again said, “No,” because of the laugh, I got it on the third guess. Now I thought that was pretty amazing because not only had I not spoken to her in twenty years, I hadn’t actually hung out with her for nearly forty years. But here we were on an old-fashioned telephone (no cell phone reception at the cabin!) and we proceeded to talk for almost two hours – just like it was yesterday, well just like it was yesterday, forty years ago.
Near the end of the call, I mentioned to her that I was going to be back in The States in a few months on another trip and that I was planning to go to The Grand Canyon because I had never been there. She didn’t miss a beat before saying, “Well, let me know the dates, I might fly out and meet you.” I did register her offer but not as a serious possibility. Instead, I was thinking, “What an odd thing to say – as if she would fly out and meet me at The Grand Canyon.”
So, many months later, the night before I was leaving Australia, this conversation came to mind. I quickly dashed off an email to my friend saying, “Just a note to let you know that I’m all packed and flying out in the morning. I’m going to Mexico for a few weeks with a friend and then I will head up to Arizona to see The Grand Canyon.” I really did not expect any action on her part but at least my conscience would be clear that I had let her know I was travelling as I had planned.
By the time I landed in LA I had an email from her saying, “Okay, great, I’m making arrangements. Let me know what date you fly into Phoenix and what time your flight arrives.” You could have knocked me over with a feather when I finished reading her email. I was so surprised.
As the day drew near for us to meet up, I became a little nervous. I mean we really hadn’t seen each other in forty years and here we were about to spend six days and nights together, sharing motel rooms, eating every meal together, on the road, in the close quarters of the front seat of a rental car. What would we talk about all that time? Well, by the time we were spending our last night together, we were both wishing she had booked a later flight back home – Haha!
So that is why I’ve been thinking about the meaning of true friendship. It occurs to me that sometimes people come into our lives for short periods of time; perhaps for specific reasons or a single purpose or just for that phase of life.
It doesn’t mean it has to be for the entire life, nor from the beginning of life, in order for it to be a true friendship.
In the case of me and my friend, we met as young brides. Our husbands had grown up next door to each other and were best friends. We then had our children at the same time and spent maybe seven or eight years, hanging out, learning how to budget for groceries on the very small salary our husbands were earning (they were working at the same place at this time), learning to be parents, and playing pinochle after we got the kids to bed at night. I always really liked her but if you had asked me at any time during the last forty years what it was I liked about her, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you.
But now having spent six days with her in Arizona, I can see why I liked her back then and why I still really like being with her. For one thing, she does what she says she is going to. Haha! She is interested in life. She is committed to her own morality. She takes initiative to research beyond surface appearances. She is well informed on the current political situations. She honours her heritage and for the purpose of how that can empower the here and now. She is a carer for disabled and chronically ill people. She does this in such a way that those people don’t even feel like they are being ‘looked after’. She becomes part of their life, their friend.
Although I am aware that we share similar values, more than that, I can feel that we were constellated. We were constellated to spend those early parenting years together just as, for whatever reason, we were constellated to spend six days together in Arizona at the beginning of 2019.
We are aligned. Always were and likely always will be even though we may not see each other ever again. But it doesn’t matter because we have true friendship.
Gayle C., Australia
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