The best friends in my life have common traits: warmth, kindness and the gift of caring deeply. They are all people who I can rely on without a single doubt; that is something very important to me. Some people have a big family to fill these roles; I have my friends.
I met one friend when our children were six, they are now eighteen. Two years ago, in the dairy aisle between the orange juice and yogurt of our local store, I took a chance and impulsively asked her if she would like to go for coffee one day. I didn’t have to worry, she said she “would absolutely love to” with a big goofy grin. Since that day we have seen each other at least once a week at our favorite diner, we talk daily and we e-mail. When she thinks I look wan and tired, she tells me to sit, when she thinks I am not feeling well enough SHE begs off and reschedules.
I’ve also had a best friend for thirty-five years, we met at work after I graduated college. We’ve been through so much together that our friendship is practically tenured. We have gone without talking for months on end, if not years because she disappears emotionally. I tried to break up with her but when I thought of the word ‘best friend,’ I saw her sheepish face and her emotional handicaps. I don’t understand why she does it and neither does she but I accept it and we work at our friendship. No-one said friendships are always easy.
I was two when my other friend was born and we were inseparable for the first eight years of our lives. We were childhood friends, bound together by foundation, emotional glue. We grew apart, with different interests and different locations yet there was never a birthday when we didn’t send each other a card. I got married and had kids and lived in Boston, she had Springsteen tickets and a new boyfriend. Even though we may not see each other for years there is an emotional connection and joy built into our foundation, like red bricks for a building. If I needed her, she would be there for me in one second, no questions asked and I would do the same for her.
I have best friends on line who support me and whom I support in our chronic pain journeys; we give each other all that we can and it is always enough. Saying that you understand, you can relate, is a gift that we inherently have. Everyone is equal here and safe. There is one person I consider a ‘best friend that I have not yet met.’ I trust her advice, love her honesty, intelligence and wit not to mention our shared love of everything sweet. I have a friend on-line that I call my ‘twin’, another that I call ‘my little sister’ and one I refer to as ‘the mother hen.’ There is a friend on another coast that I would go to if she gave a seminar, not thinking twice that I had never met her in person. These friends on-line are important in my life; we send each other messages of support, and soft, gentle hugs that you feel in your heart and they cause no pain.
These women are in my home with me on my laptop, helping me when I am down, congratulating me when I feel better, always available for a question. We are a group of people with a common thread of pain, sharing support, advice and friendship. We understand what others are going through because we are there ourselves. We are not just friends; we are a circle of women, connected; another way of saying family.