I’ve been talking to the kids a lot recently about the value of true friendship. About how you can’t be friends with everyone and that only a select few people will ever be your true friends, as nice as all of those around you seem on a day to day basis. My eldest has had a few playground disappointments, where he has had to realize that not everybody is his best friend. A hard lesson for him to learn. Yet, he has also had some amazing experiences with friends who care about him no matter what, and will always stand by him. Well – at least for now. Amazing how the little guys lives are such a mirror of our own.
I wonder about at which point we decide that those playground disappointments don’t really matter. At what point do we truly learn to let things slide and say ‘whatever’ and really mean it. At what point are we able to say without judgment that the other person is having a bad day and leave it at that, no questions asked. At what point do we learn the value of mutual respect – or at what point don’t we learn it? And, if being really really honest, are we actually ever able to do any of those things?
At what point does discussing an absent friend become gossip, rather than just a catch up on life. At what point does the spread of that gossip turn into something that has grown from hearsay and is blown out of all proportion? And at what point does that differ to the trials and tribulations of a 7 year old?
I’m not sure I really have the answers to any of those questions. I try to teach my children to be as good a friend as they possibly can, to anyone and everyone. I try to practice what I preach. I try. I don’t always succeed, as much as I would like to.
I try to teach my children the importance of community and helping out friends in need, whether it’s convenient or not. As I pop in to see a friend who is feeling under the weather and my 4 year old complains that it’s one more thing to do after a morning of errands, I try to explain to him that when a friend is sick it doesn’t matter whether you feel like making an effort or not, you still need to be there when they need you.
I learned the value of that when I went through my fight with cancer. I learned the importance of community and the importance of true friendship. I came to value the amazing group of selfless people who were my guardian angels and gave me moments of their time where they put me first and foremost and helped me out without question. I came to value those people who had the courage to put their own emotions to one side and to look me in the eye and really listen to what it was that I was dealing with on any given day. I came to value those who chose not to share their problems with me when they knew I was already at full capacity. I still do.
As a friend, I want to give everything back to those who supported me, in leaps and bounds. Then life gets in the way and I get caught up in my family circle and I have to give myself a nudge to make that call, write that email, send that note.
Another thing that I learned through sickness is that friendship is a great healer. True friendship, that is. One of my best teachers in that department is my friend Jane. Namaste Jane.
I also learned that food is an amazing healer. Good old home cooked food. I organized a month of meals for a sick friend a few weeks ago. It felt so so good to know that she would receive meals for herself and her children on a daily basis. It felt so good to have everyone rally round and have a sense of community. It felt good to let her know that she is loved. It also felt great to have everyone be so positive about cooking wheat and dairy free meals for my friend who is avoiding those foods because of her medical condition – without question.
One friend shared a recipe for her grandmothers chicken and vegetable stew. It sound delicious. I plan to make it and share a pic very soon.