Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "A friendship might well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature." Couldn't agree more. I am certainly a better person because of the friendships that I have made over my lifetime. I feel very lucky. I have, what I consider to be, the most fun, challenging, intelligent, creative, energetic, considerate, reliable, trustworthy and beautiful group of friends possible. Albeit a very widespread group.
What I have learned over the years is that true friendship takes time, and a lot of nurturing. It does not come easily. And it shouldn't. Anything worth having is worth the hard work it takes to maintain it.
A few years back my best friend, Rachel, called me and posed an unusual question. "If my diaphragm were stuck inside of me would you get it out?"
"I beg your pardon?" I had not caught up on the Sex and the City madness yet, so I had no clue what she was referring to.
"You heard me."
"Are we stranded on a desert island in this scenario?", I was hopeful.
"No. I'm just curious. Would you do that for me? If I were desperate? And if it meant that we were not going out until I got it out?"
"Well. I suppose my answer is yes. If it were a desperate situation, then, yes. I would get your diaphragm out of you."
Because that's what friends do for each other, right? I mean, it's the least I could do. She had, a few years back, retrieved me from the ER at Northwestern Memorial at 5:00 am one very chilly Chicago winter morning. I had been in a late night car accident, the details of which I will exclude. My "cell mate" had been beckoning to the good lord almighty all night to come and take her away. He must have had a full docket that evening. I was unable to get a hold of my friend for several hours because I was being poked and prodded (and scolded and shamed). When she finally arrived I broke down into the big "ugly cry". I was so relieved to have her there. She was sweet and understanding, and kind enough to tell me that my feet smelled and my legs were hairy, and how unfortunate that was because there was a bevvy of handsome young interns milling around the ER. But, that's what friends are for! I would, however, like my mother to know that I did have on clean underpants.
My sisters and I grew up in a home where our parents prided themselves on their close friendships. We always witnessed a lot of laughter and love where our parents and their friends were concerned.. My dad was a part of a very tight knit group of men who had regular lunches together during our summer vacations in Michigan. They joined forces late in their lives and came up with the name ROMEO's, which stands for Retired Old Men Eating Out. How cute is that? They would meet on a regular basis for lunch and talk about whatever it is that men of a certain age talk about. But then it wasn't about the food, it was about the camaraderie. It was important to each and every one of them. In recent years their gatherings have become a little more limited to lunch once in a blue moon and coffee together at the local hotel whenever one was able to make it. Dad missed a whole summer due to health issues. He made a comeback the next summer when he arrived in his scooter chair at coffee one morning. He was welcomed with a standing ovation and many tears. That is true friendship.
The connections that we make can be pretty amazing. Some not so much. But, sometimes we are lucky enough to connect with someone with whom we have so much in common it's almost scary. I met my friend, Kelly, right after I graduated from college. We were thrown into a work situation that made it necessary for us to at least find some common ground. But we found more. We became as close as 2 friends could possibly get. And, we still are today. If for some reason we were to stop being friends I would never be able to look myself in the mirror and not think of her. Literally. She once came to visit me in Chicago and after a day at Wrigley Field and a few of the surrounding bars, we found ourselves at Sluggers bar + batting cages. (What a great combination by the way!) Kelly had just finished up her round so I jumped into her cage to "help" her toss her balls back. But she wasn't tossing. She was hitting. With a bat. Yep. You guessed it. Next thing I knew there was a bat in my face and I was going down. I was pretty sure I was ok. "I'm fine! See. No blood!" And then I noticed the small red puddle forming on the floor in front of me. Fortunately I had had enough anesthesia that day that it didn't hurt too badly. After signing my life away in the management office and strapping a band aid to my eyebrow, we were off to the Big Nasty. And, yes, I have a lovely souvenir of that evening, just under my left eyebrow.
I watched my 2 dogs outside today. They are the best of friends. Winston is 11 and deaf as a post. Recently, Harry has taken to shepherding his old pal when it's time to go inside. He'll come up along the side of him and give him a little nudge, as if to say, "Come on, buddy. Let's go in." And,Winston will faithfully follow his little sidekick indoors. It is the sweetest thing to see. But that is, after all, what friends do for one another. They help, guide, support, love. And sometimes remove birth control devices that are lodged in one's vagina. Eww.