It’s an esteemable act to treasure your friends.

Our connection was immediate on our first day at law school. We now have a soulful bond that has spanned almost twenty years. Who would have thought the two of us, from such different worlds, eleven years apart in age, could come together as lifelong friends? Yet we have. She loves animals; so do I. I root for the underdog; so does she. She is an old spirit, wise beyond her years. And when I met her, I had lived a life far beyond my years. Her heart is bristling with love for all things living, and her spirit is quite courageous. That first day of class when Lorraine challenged our contracts professor, I knew we’d be friends. Through career changes, relocations, marriages, disagreements, aging, failed Bar exams, and two law school reunions, we still are friends.

What is friendship? It’s a voluntary connection, a bond between two or more people that transcends race, religion, gender, or political persuasion. It’s knowing we can count on someone to be there when we need him or her. It’s unconditionally being loved, no matter what. It’s having someone to laugh with, cry with, dance with, and celebrate with. It’s having the courage to tell the truth and having the courage to be told the truth.

Friendship is trusting someone enough to reveal that side of us that we dare not reveal too often. It’s knowing a friend will deliver on a promise. It’s the offering of whatever we have to give to make our friend’s road just a little easier: an ear to listen, a shoulder to cry on, a sofa to crash on, money if needed, our heart, our attention. Friends are like the warm, cozy fire on a cold, damp night. True friendship is a gift from God that we are required to take care of. How do we get friends? I heard years ago that to have a friend, you must be a friend. For years my mentor Louise reminded me that as long as I found it necessary to sleep with other women’s husbands, I wouldn’t have any girlfriends. What a novel concept. Yet the truth is, at that time in my life I didn’t think I needed women in my life. “Women are too competitive,” I’d say. “They can’t be trusted. They backstab you.” Of course, I knew that was true because I helped to perpetuate such beliefs through my own behavior. Today, I know the value and ultimate utility of same-sex friendships.

Where do we find friends? Everywhere we are – the hallway in our apartment building, our job, the elevator, the gym, the opera, in church, at a community meeting, at PTA. Wherever we show up, there are opportunities to make friends. Some friends pass through our lives on a temporary mission. Others stay for a while, perhaps months or even years. Their charge is to assist us along the journey in a way that only they can do. Their expertise is needed at that moment in time. But then there are those who come for the long haul. They share our journey in a special way, and a slice of history is created.

What gets in the way of friendship? Hurt feelings, ego, family, other friends, work, other commitments, changing values, changing goals, and distance. And some relationships, seemingly through nobody’s fault, just fade away. Yet I believe that no relationship just dies. Like anything else, where we place our attention is what gets fed and grows. If a relationship reaches its expiration, it’s because we have allowed that to happen for some reason.

Think about the people you have at some time or another called friends. Explore what you appreciate about them and ways you can let them know, and if appropriate, how you can reconnect with them.

Until next time, I’m Francine D. Ward, reminding you to treasure your friends!

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