Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Who Says You Can't Pick Your Family?

Sometimes when I need to let off some steam or unload my mind but I can't seem to pick a specific thought out of the storm, I go looking online for writing prompts, or I find a site that has lists of quotes or proverbs, old sayings, things like that. Sometimes something really stands out to me, and I feel inspired to write. Today? I found this little proverb ...

" A friend is one to whom one may pour out all the contents of one's heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that the gentlest of hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping and with a breath of kindness blow the rest away."
- Arabian Proverb

It really made me think hard. How true it is, a real friend is one who loves all the great things about you, one who cherishes special memories and private jokes with you. One who's company you enjoy. But a friend, a real true friend, is one who loves you because of those things ... in spite of your flaws. No matter what they are. No matter how bad they are. Friends are people who stick together through thick and thin, not because they have to or because they have a familial responsibility, but because they love each other through a bond created over time. Webster's Dictionary says that a friend is "a person you know well and regard with affection and trust."

Some people never really have that. Some people never have a real true friend, one they can call in the middle of the night crying so hard they can't even talk. Some people never have someone they can tell all their dirty secrets to, share all the things they're ashamed of with. I do.

In fifth grade, I met Jessica, my best friend. I was about ten years old when we met, and now we are both grown up; I am twenty-six years old. We have had ups and downs in our years together, from Brian to the Shrimp Scampi ... We've both been married and had children, we've been through sickness, we've been through so many happy times and we've carried each other through times we might never have made it through alone.

We admit to each other when we can't stand our men, but we call to brag when our men do the things that make us feel like schoolgirls again ... We admit when we can't stand our kids because they act like little turds sometimes, but we share funny stories back and forth all the time about the things our four little girls say and do. We talk about things we want to achieve and remember things we've achieved already, both together and apart.

More importantly, we lean hard on each other even though 900 miles sit between us every day. She knows she can call me at all hours of the day or night, and I know that I could call her. And these days, we use those calls. Her life is full with a stressful job in social work, two busy kids, one of which has just been diagnosed with a "minor" heart defect, and a husband well on his way to joining the local police force, a dangerous job to say the least though it is considerably safer than Iraq ... US Army Infantry was his last job title. That's not to say she has a bad life ... she doesn't. Her job is well paying and provides good medical insurance for her family, her husband loves her and has risked his life many times in ways that most men won't to provide for the family, and her children are beautiful, smart, and mostly healthy. But she stresses, and I love being the person she feels safe enough to call.

On the flip side, I love being able to call her when Tennybop does or says something funny, I love sending her pictures of little Piglet as she grows. I love calling her to tell her when Private Ryan pulls off some romantic effort or just manages to stay on this moody woman's good side for a while. But I also love knowing that I can call her when I'm having a terrible day and I can whine and rant and gripe about my "terrible" life with a man who can be insensitive and a little dense, with two children who can be annoying to say the least. And that with her I am safe not just saying "the least" but that I can unload to the fullest, I can say the very worst things in my mind ... and she understands. She knows that I don't always mean what I say, and she knows when I do. She knows how to talk me down, and she knows how to lift me up.

I couldn't have asked for a better friend and am somewhat convinced that when God created us and set our lives in motion, He meant for us to collide and provide support for each other in the years of our lives. He knew what we'd go through, how we'd need each other as children, and again as women. I am proud to call her "friend", but more than that I think of her as a big sister, a confidante, and sometimes even a mentor.

And I couldn't be more thankful for her presence in my life, whether she's twenty minutes down the street, or twenty hours down the interstate.

... another little something I found ...

"Forever Friends"

We're joined in a friendship/ That time cannot sever /With bonds we have built /We'll remain friends forever

We're welded in spirit/ Attached by our hearts/ And fused by the feelings/ That friendship emparts

We're tied by emotions/ Connected by dreams/ Reinforced by our hopes/ Unified by extremes

No longer a function/ of time or of space/ Our friendship is a substance/ That life won't replace

No matter how distant/ We'll always endeavour/ To sense the full meaning/ of Friendship Forever