Quite frankly being a friend is sometimes too much effort. Friendships take time and energy and when you’ve lots of things on your plate, they often move further down the ‘To Do” list.
But I’ve been reminded recently about the value of those friendships and how nurturing them, even just a little bit, can reap the most beautiful rewards.
In October 2009 I was diagnosed with cervical cancer. Now, don’t get me wrong, it came as a huge shock, it was horrible at times, and very stressful. But two years on I am cured and, compared to what many people go through, it was a walk in the park.
Around that same time a friend was diagnosed with lung cancer. A healthy living, non-smoking vegetarian, a loving mother to a three-year old boy, a trusted friend, an honest and caring giver, a wonderful cook, one of the most fun people I know. Sadly, she passed away earlier this year at the age of only 42 leaving her beautiful boy to know her through our memories and stories.
I can’t begin to tell you how much I’ve wanted to call her in the last few months; just for a chat, to ask her opinion, to get that recipe for melt-in-the-mouth-5-hour-roast-lamb, to ask her about the places she travelled, to share a laugh but most of all to tell her just how much I love her and how much she made a difference in my life.
I was “brave.” I told her how much I loved her before it was too late, but how many of us don’t?
Since her diagnosis (and mine) and especially since losing her, I’ve made sure that I say those three magic words to the people who really matter. Sometimes it’s hard, because some people don’t know how to react, but mostly, I’ve received the heartiest hug and to hear those magical four words back – “I love you too.”
Having cancer certainly taught me who my real friends are, and I’m sad to say that I’ve said “farewell” to a few folk in the last couple of years. It’s always a difficult decision to choose to end a friendship whether actively or simply to let it drift away, but there simply isn’t time enough to maintain a friendship with every great person that you meet.
I’ve recently returned home to Scotland from my dream holiday visiting the fantastic national parks of southwest USA. Whilst I was there I managed to meet up with my oldest school friend in Las Vegas. She has lived in the US for almost 20 years and our contact in that time has been sporadic. We were in grave danger of drifting apart. But when she emailed to say that she and her husband would love to meet up with us in Vegas, wild horses wouldn’t have stopped me.
It was the best time of our holiday. Seeing the Grand Canyon was truly awesome, but wrapping my arms around my childhood friend and receiving a hearty hug back is beyond description. The two days we spent together felt wonderful and like I was 15 again (well 15 again but with serious jet lag). We couldn’t remember how or when we met but we can’t remember a time before we knew each other. A really magical time.
So, now I’m home, what am I going to do about my friendships – the ones that really matter? Refreshed and renewed, I’ve been calling, emailing and lunching in a frenzy with the folks close to home, and less than a week after returning home from the USA, I’ve booked a flight to California to see my friend again.
She is over the moon and we’re planning what we’re going to do together already. It seems silly that I’ve neglected this friendship for so long. When I see her in six weeks time, I’m going to give her a big hug and say those three magic words.
Jill B. lives childfree in Scotland. She loves to travel to see beautiful places and good friends.