What a joy true friendship is. I’m talking about the kind of friendship that is born in honest and open sharing from the soul, from the gut, from the heart, and from the mind. Friendship that allows two people to live hundreds of miles apart from each other and yet always feel very closely connected.
I am presently visiting with one of those friends. We last saw each other two years ago when she and her daughter passed through town and spent the night. Before that, we last saw each other when my daughter and I passed through town and spent a night with her back in June of 2004. Our previous connection had been in Naples, Italy where we met and developed our friendship over a period of a couple of years.
When we reconnect it is as though we have not been apart. We seamlessly pick up the loose ends of our relationship as though we had met for coffee just last week. There is a comfort and a power in this kind of friendship. There is no need to waste time in explanations. We look into each other’s eyes and we know where we’re at.
As we wrap our arms around each other in those first few moments of greeting, it’s like taking a warm, well-worn comforter off the back of the couch and pulling it snugly around our shoulders. Or perhaps like pulling that favorite old sweater out and pulling it on. It’s like sitting down with a cup of hot tea or coffee in front of a welcoming fire.
In friendships such as this we find strength and comfort to help us through those hard trials in life. We know that we can surrender and lean in without being judged or criticized. We can laugh together, cry together, pray together, and sit in silence together respecting each other’s presence.
I was truly not sure what prompted me to make this visit at this particular time. I arrived here late on Sunday afternoon after a seven hour drive. By bedtime, around eleven o’clock, we had talked ourselves tired! We had shared the rich and intimate details of “where we were at” as well as a wonderful home-cooked meal. The years of ups and downs, of joys and sorrows, of hopes and dreams – achieved and dashed – lay on the coffee table between us and spilled out across the carpet. We could see and feel the growth that had come to each of us through those experiences.
Monday dawned bright with sunshine and sparkling blue skies. I came downstairs full of sleep and found a note on the counter and coffee ready to go:-). She had gone to work for a few hours but was home by early afternoon. She found me sprawled on the deck of the pool soaking up some summer rays. She laughed delightedly at the picture I presented, content that I was so enjoying her beautiful home.
We spent the afternoon talking some more, getting into those kinds of details and clarifications that only women seem capable of seeking in their deep friendships. She is dealing with marital issues and so it is good to be there for her, to just listen and love her. It was an afternoon of joy and laughter and, yes, a few tears. We jumped in the pool a couple of times to refresh and restore not only our bodies but also our spirits.
Another wonderful meal later and still more talking. It’s as though we know we have this short time together and we need to get as much heart-to-heart in as we can. I introduced her to my web page and left her to read as I spent some time checking through her portfolio. She is an amazing interior decorator and creates incredible artistic finishes, including original murals, faux finishes, and awesome wall and cabinet textures in peoples’ homes.
And then the bomb drops. An email that shatters her heart. And in one instant I understand why I am there at this given time in her life. I can be sounding board and shoulder to cry on. I can offer support and some calming objectivity in the midst of chronic heartache. I can be the arms of God holding her as she cries. I can move in close and also give her space. I am friend.