An acquaintance of mine has over 900 friends on Facebook. 900 friends? I don’t think so. But perhaps I differ with Facebook on the definition of a friend, for a friend is somebody we trust and are fond of, someone of whom we think well and we are on good terms, or a friend is an ally – not an enemy. The word itself comes to us from Frijon, which was the gothic verb to love, which is why I have chosen to write about friendship on Valentine’s Day.
I do not love all my friends, for love is a very strong word. I can count on my ten fingers the friends whom I loved, have loved, and still love. I had one close friend in high school, and one more through my college years. I have found that as I age, I treasure the memories of those friendships with my long-lost but much-loved friends.
But then I married and had two sons. These three were my only friends when my small-ish house was a man-land with one full bathroom. Add to that, my husband was a sailor who regularly left me with our sons for six-month cruises with the US Navy. Being both Mom and Dad allowed no time for friends, but in retrospect, I badly needed one. However, real friends take time, and I rarely had enough of that to get a good haircut.
But as I reached my fifties and my sons grew up, I slowly emerged from man-land, and, with some effort on my part, I now have friends of my age whose company I relish. In these later-life friendships, we are there for each other, to share what we have come to recognize as the important parts of life, like taking a walk on a beach, the sharing of a meal or a simple pot of tea, or sending a truly thoughtful gift for no reason at all. We know from our life experiences that no one knows what tomorrow may bring. Time has taught us that lesson.
Friendship is fired in the commitment to be there. The best way to be there is to take a firm hold of a friend’s hand and be right there beside them – in spirit but so much better in the flesh- should a friend need you, for our friends are people whom we trust and are fond of, of whom we think well and with whom we are on good terms, our ally when the world seems against us.
So if you call, and say you need me, I’ll be there. And it will not be in the form of a sound bite on Facebook. I will be there. That’s what friends are for.