friendshipFour months ago, I lost a dear friend.  He succumbed to cancer after an aggressive battle.  In our last conversation he said to me, “Susie, I’ve learned some amazing things on this journey.  And I can tell you it’s all about love.  It’s really ALL about love.”  He is now free of pain.  That is my consolation.  I miss him very much.  Our time together was precious.

Over the years, I’ve come to appreciate friendships because friends are essential to our well-being.  We are hard-wired to live in community; it is part of our survival.  We need friendships to live in a way we could not live or survive otherwise.  We open up in varying degrees with friends.  We describe friends as close or casual; best buds or acquaintances.  Some friendships come easily; in others we must invest more effort to stay connected.  Whatever the degree of emotional intimacy, we find value because we choose our friends, and they choose us.  This is the freedom and power of friendship that is unlike familial connections.

This past weekend I connected with a friend I hadn’t seen in about 5 years.  We’ve known each other for almost 40 years.  I remember wonderful, long, contemplative conversations as young women; sitting for hours while drinking cinnamon tea and eagerly anticipating our future.  There was so much to look forward to as we gazed into the future with wide-eyed wonder, trusting our abilities to do all things well.

Four decades later, we reminisced about “the good ole days”, and we caught up on what’s been happening the past several years.  We’ve experienced some wonderful successes, had some great adventures we didn’t anticipate, slain a few dragons, and conquered some massive obstacles.  We’ve also known loss, disappointment, health challenges, failure, and unexpected tragedies.  We’ve basically lived what all of us have lived – the human experience.  We’ve learned a lot these past four decades, and we’ve gathered some wisdom along the way.

As I listened to her and how she had moved through her personal challenges of the recent years, I saw the pain, trauma, and sadness of dreams unfulfilled, broken promises, and deep loss.  I saw her disillusionment and disappointment.  I also saw her still brilliant smile and her contagious laughter that affirmed the resilience of her spirit; even in her weariness.  I saw her determination to continue on and live her life well.  I saw her perseverance, determination, and clarity of focus.

We’ve made different choices over the years.  We hold different values.  We’ve had different outcomes.  Yet the love and respect we have for each other has endured.  This is the richness of friendship.

Perhaps today you might want to “count your lucky stars” and celebrated cherished friendships.