We’ve all got our various acquaintances based upon common interests and work relations and we’ve got friends we see on a more casual basis (often because of distance and time) and those that we see much more often and are a part of serious bonding and history. Friendships are a part of life that sustain us in so many ways that we’re probably not aware of but in nearly all instances, friendship takes work and mutual understanding and can even change form and shape through different stages of our lives.
I value good friendships but I realize that we are all beholden to our schedules and commitments and there is a natural ebb and flow to these things. I think my wife struggles with this concept, as do I, but she tends to believe that her need for ‘down time’, in light of a heavy work load, means that she’s letting friends down; that she’s not a good friend.
That I would strongly disagree with and suggest that what I have witnessed in her over the past 19 years transcends all that I have ever been capable of as a friend. I constantly strive to be a better friend to those I care about but watching her is like watching a clinic on how to relate to a friend, not when times are the best, because we can all do that, but when they are at their most difficult. This is where you find out what people are made of. You’ve heard the saying: ‘When times are bad, you find out who your real friends are’? It’s dead-on true.
This past weekend, when my sister-in-law’s mother passed away (see the prior blog entry), my wife made the quick decision to leave a day and half before me so she could be there for the family and booked a train and plane and was gone. Amidst the natural chaos that is the passing of a loved one, she helped with whatever needed her aid and then I met her later on and we were immediately off to the visitation at the funeral home.
Now I can tell you that there was no formal arrangement that I was aware of as to what our roles were other than to be there for the family. My wife and sister-in-law are not related by blood but by a common friendship and love that is remarkably strong so I should not have been surprised when my wife assumed the part of support mechanism for my sister-in-law.
I was anyway, and in many ways I’m always amazed with the selflessness she employs to help friends that are hurt.
My wife stayed close to my sister-in-law and held her at times and shared the tears, the pain and the loss, and when she wasn’t doing that she was greeting mourners, extending a hand and generally directing traffic. I pretty much stayed with my niece and nephew and did what I am best at doing; entertaining the kids. But what I witnessed in my wife is the kind of friend I hope we all have at some point in our lives; a person that steps up to the plate when you most need it and does so without hesitation.
I can’t say that I’ve always been that sort of friend but after watching my wife do this kind of thing countless times with other friends, sensing when someone is in crisis, I hope that I’ve learned something from her. Over the years I’ve watched my wife get the short end of the stick from people she thought were her ‘friends’ when she was in need but that never deters her a bit.
She simply knows what needs to be done and does it without complaint and usually takes it a step further than that. I really believe that this quality in her has touched me in ways that I’m not even aware of but of the ones that I am aware of, I know I take more time with people and listen to what they say. I look them straight in the eye and listen, not casually but with real interest and that’s not always easy because our days are filled by quickly moving from one task to another and to hear someone you have to stop moving.
Now if you think I’m writing this just to rack up brownie points, you’d be wrong because I’m too lazy for that. No, I’m writing this because that friendship quality in her blows me away and I just want to run around and tell everyone but then I’m too lazy for that too. That’s why I have this blog.
Contemplating all of this, as I am, I realize she’s the friend I’ve always wanted to have.