What Is A Friend?

I went to a memorial service for a friend last weekend. It was beautiful. His close friends spoke about how they worked and played with him, how they asked and answered questions with him. They had eaten much Chinese food, gone to many movies, shared many dinners, many bottles of wine, flown many kites, and had enjoyed each other. And, the questions. Oh, my friend could ask more questions. That’s how he learned. He was one of the smartest people I ever met.

That got me thinking about friendship, especially today, on my birthday. Yes, today I am a ketchup bottle. Hint: look at the very small print on the front of the bottle. Mark, my clever husband, is responsible for the description of this birthday.

So, while I will very happily accept your wishes, and I hope that I remember to check Facebook to reciprocate on your birthdays, friendship is way more than the wishes on this one day a year.

We build our friendships throughout our lives in small chunks. We accept invitations for parties or dinners, whether those invitations are for 50 or for 2. We bring dinner for the sick or the recently bereaved. We dance together and drink coffee and eat lunch. We laugh! We offer showers and the use of our washing machines and internet for those without power. We review our resumes, LinkedIn profiles, and run after each other’s kids on the playgrounds. We listen without offering solutions or judgement. And, when we need it, we offer a hand or an arm. We enjoy the ups and downs of our lives. Our friends are part of our support systems.

Tonight, I’m having dinner with Mark, and Daughter #1. No, Daughter #2 can’t make it because she’s at school. In a couple of years, after she has graduated, we can have a full-family dinner again on my birthday.

I collect friends, because as many as I have, I always think there is room for one more. I love the fact that as I travel the world, there are people everywhere who are some version of “friend.” Maybe not a close friend, but friendly.

In the spirit of the The Hobbit, my gift to you is to think about your friends. Are your friends part of your support system? Are they helping you? Are you helping them? Are your friendships supportive? I hope so. Those are friends that last a lifetime.

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3 thoughts on “What Is A Friend?

  1. Kathleen Ashelford

    Happy (belated) Birthday, Johanna. Mine is an October birthday as well. I’ve been given a renewed appreciation for family and friends this past year, as I have been to a few memorial services. I will be thinking of everyone at AYE during the days of the conference and the wonderful people I met the two years I was there, 2008 and 2009. Thank you again for this wonderful blog.

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