Over the past several years, being a very close friend of mine has been a challenge.
Distance was only one of the obstacles. I lived across the pond, in the UK, for 16 years. It wasn’t like we could meet for coffee or show up on each other’s doorstep randomly. Our contact was limited to the occasional phone call, online chat, messages and interactions on Facebook and Skype. When there is distance involved, it becomes very easy to become so wrapped up in our own lives. Time has a tendency to get away from us and, before we know it, ages have passed before we can touch base with friends. Fortunately, for me, this wasn’t the case.
Apart from the distance, there was the fact that we were all going through very challenging times. In my case, there was constant stress, bad news, worry, depression, uncooperative people, stress-related illness, dead ends, frustration, tears, anger as a result of my circumstances (abuse, escape, divorce, in complete isolation). My friends listened to me for years, offering their support, comfort, shoulders and ears from the distance. They were patient, compassionate, loving, sage and almost always available (considering the time difference, of course). At no point did any of them ever make me feel like I was a burden or dragging them down with my constant stream of problems. My profuse apologies always fell on deaf ears; each one of them would respond with, “Stop it. I’m just sorry I can’t do more.” I recall the times that I would be in a video call, crying my eyes out, without a word of complaint. My friends were able to make me laugh, even when I didn’t feel like smiling. They made me feel unconditionally loved at a time in my life when I believed such horrible things about myself. For not being physically present in each other’s lives, I can’t express how impressive I think this is.
I am fortunate enough to have known many of my friends for decades, some even since our ages were in the single digits. Others I met in high school, at work, through mutual friends and online. They’re the family I chose for myself; they know how I feel, think and they know what my beliefs are, no explanations required. I trust them all with my life; I tell them all that I love them every time we talk. There is genuine respect and loyalty; no name calling, even in jest; no awkwardness after not talking for a while; no lies, backstabbing, gossip.
Celebration of friendship is so very important, even it’s just taking the time to express appreciation for their presence in one’s life. My gratitude for my friends knows no limits and I make sure they know it.
Their level of friendship is “expert.” They are my heroes. ♥