What is a friend? Have you ever really thought about that question? Do you personally have a best friend, the one person that you can go to no matter what for ANY thing, however small, silly or unimportant or however big?
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My graduating class from high school had a total of eighteen kids in it, so it’s safe to say we were all friends to some degree. Call me naive, but I did not understand that everyone in the world did not grow up with close friends as we did, I only came to understand this when one of my friends married a guy that grew up in the Houston, TX area with a graduating class that was larger than our entire school (our K-12 had less than 300 kids). When I first found this out about him, I was kind of dumbfounded! I just could not imagine such a large school, much less the fact that he could not name any kids he grew up with or went to school with! Forty years later I can still name off everyone in our class and their birthdays and most of the people in the three classes below me! For Heaven’s sake, there were only twelve in my nursing program at college! You must really wonder by now just what kind of “hicksville” place do I come from! ha-ha Well, I did eventually grow out of my po-dunk way of thinking, about the time of clinicals and we had to do a rotation at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, TX. Talk about country come to town!!!
So back to true friendships… Let’s think about this for a moment, I tend to think of friendships or relationships in four different categories. First, there are acquaintances, these are people you meet such as receptionists at doctor’s offices or the librarian at your local library (do people other than myself still go to the library) or maybe your children’s teachers. You meet these people, may know their name and just a few general things about them, but you don’t hang out with them or talk to them other than on a business type level. A few of your co-workers may even fall into this category. Second, is what I call friends, these are more than acquaintances, but not really close friends, these can be some of your co-workers may be that you’ve worked with for a very long time and you’ve gotten to know really well. You may talk with these friends away from work, even go out for coffee or drinks from time to time. This group can also include parents of your children’s friends, or even friends you have known for a long time, but don’t get together with very often or that you trust with your secrets.
Now, this third category of friends, this group, this is what I call my “circle of besties”, this circle consists of my long-term friends, most of which I grew up with, have known since day one! We’re talking from the cradle, our parents were friends long before we were ever born and we started playing together by the time we could crawl! Of course, there are a few others that have been allowed into this inner circle, some that each of us have picked up along the way throughout our lives and through trials, hard times and marriages have proven worthy to be sanctioned into our “inner circle” so after a few years we now claim them into our private “sisterhood”. This picture below is part of my circle of besties, it was taken at my daughter’s recent wedding. The picture includes my older brother that has endured all of us our entire lives but also does not include a couple of our very dearest besties that could not attend the wedding. We are a crazy group of gals that never stop laughing when together and have a lifetime of secrets that will go to our graves with us!! That’s what besties are for, right?!?
This circle of ladies are my warriors! I cannot do life without each and every one of them, I kid you not! We have a special group message on FB that we are always texting in to ask for prayers, encouragement, praise to God or just to share a daily laugh with each other. We try to meet as often as possible for a “girl’s night” which always includes eating, laughing and a couple of “drinks” of the adult type beverages! ha-ha We have celebrated marriages and births of our children together and we have also mourned the loss of family members together. Over the years we have always been side by side through all of life’s ups and downs. I once saw a meme on FB that said something to the effect of “when your kids look through your old photos and ask who are these people and you say oh, those were people I once spent some of the best years of my life with”, I smiled at that meme and thought my kids never ask that question when looking at my yearbooks or old photo albums. Instead, my kids point, laugh and say “look at Aunt whoever when she was young”! yes, my kids know all my childhood friends and grew up thinking of them as aunts, they even know them by their childhood nicknames. Everyone in this inner circle of friends is a TRUE friend, they are the epitome of the word friend, so to answer the question that titles this post, I could say a true friend is a person that is always there for you through the good and bad times of life. I could stop here, and say that answers the main question. But I won’t stop here, I have one more category of friendship that I hold to the highest level of friendship!
Finally, the fourth category is your BFF, this is your “ride or die” partner in crime so to speak, not that we did anything criminal, it’s just that inside that inner circle we have “pairs” of very best “best friends forever”. We each have that “one” friend that has always been the one that did EVERYTHING with you from nursery school through elementary to high school, college to now and forever. This is the one person that can finish your sentences, knows what you’re going to say before you finish thinking it, even complete your sentences in a private message or text message if you’re typing too slow! My true BFF and I even have a twin phenomenon going on, we actually feel each other’s symptoms, pain, illnesses, and moods. Our parents figured this out a long time ago when we were about nine years old, her family had to move because of her father’s job, luckily they weren’t gone but a few years before they moved back home, but those were so long miserable years for all of us, including our parents because of our “sisterly” bond. It sort of freaked our husbands out at first when we married, but her husband learned quickly enough not to question it and just live with it. My first husband understood it, but my second husband never did and well, didn’t take too long to realize he wasn’t right for me either and I remained single after that, so her husband accepted the fact that he now always has two “honey-do lists” and doesn’t complain.
In first grade Annette (aka Net) and I was in the bathroom sticking our fingers with a pin, trying to mix our blood because we wanted to be true blood sisters like we’d seen it done on the old cowboy and Indian western shows. We still laugh that our first and most likely only real fight we’ve ever had was also during first grade when we were fighting over who was going to marry Elvis Presley! That fight ended when we read in a magazine about the birth of Lisa Marie in 1968 (the fact he was married didn’t bother us, but when he became a daddy it took him off the market to us), so then we moved on to David Cassidy. Net was there by my side when I had my ovarian tumor and surgery and again when I became an unwed teenage mother. I was her maid of honor when she married her other best friend and love of her life that she’s now been married to for 39 years. Even though he’s used to our close bond and me always hanging around, we can still make him blush when Net introduces me as his “other wife” to people, especially when she did it at our church when we first attended there. ha-ha Many times I’ve called Net in the middle of the night, only for her to nudge Roy and send him out to change my flat or tow my car off the side of the road, while she rolled over and went back to sleep.
Other times, my daughter has called Uncle Roy because I was at the ER having a heart attack, Net was home recovering from surgery, but my daughter knew Net would be waking up sensing I was hurting or in some kind of trouble, so again, Net sends Uncle Roy to the ER to be with my daughter in her place. We have held each other together through losing both sets of our parents, Net losing one of her sons in a car accident, me losing my only blood-related niece, and Net losing one of her nieces and one of Net’s younger brothers. She lived just across the drive-way and was my rock when I was in an emotionally abusive marriage, she’s seen me through two divorces and I’ve been with her through several miscarriages and losing her home to fire once. We both suffer from depression and seen a great deal of loss in our lives, but we also have shared so many wonderful experiences, adventures and amazing happy times. Memories to last a lifetime and the rest of our lives to make many more memories together!
So to answer the question that I put forth in the title of this post, what is a real true friend? In my opinion, a true friend is not just a person that you know, it is the bond you forge with a person by sharing real-life experiences, by supporting that person through good and bad experiences. It’s not just sharing the laughs and the happy times, it’s knowing when to just be there in bad times and not even needing to say a word, just be there and share the moment. A moment of silence at a very difficult time can say more than a million words when it is with that true friend, the one that knows you best and knows your heart is speaking to the other person through that silence.
Fortunately, Net and I have shared this bond for our entire lifetime, but you don’t have to know someone your whole life to develop the BFF bond, no, you can meet your person at any given point along your journey of life. Two souls can meet and I believe they will just know they are of kindred spirits, meaning they will hit it off right away, they will recognize the shared interests and like-minded thoughts and beliefs, and then they will forge a friendship and eventually a true bond. Spread the kindness and love, broaden your circles and watch for your kindred spirits, they are out there! The world needs all the kindness we have to offer!
until next time,