Friends. That’s a hard term to describe. I’d like to write about some of my true friends, but I hesitate to do so. How do I refer to them? I don’t want to number them, as though there is a pecking order, which there isn’t. Each friend is unique in time and place and personality and fills a specific hole or need in my relationships. I would like to be with them more often, but everyone’s time is limited.
One friend I’ll call Terrific. She is one of the most thoughtful people I’ve ever known, always thinking of ways to be helpful to people. When my foster brother died and she knew we were going to Tennessee to the funeral, she showed up on my doorstep immediately with a basket of snacks for the road trip. For years she was the first I called with good or bad news. When her son, who had also been one of my students, was killed in a freak bicycle accident, we were the first people she called. We went to them immediately and were able to return some of her many kindnesses to us.
In our 25-plus years of friendship, we have sometimes gotten together every week and sometimes only once every month or two. We see each other at church briefly, but we each have certain people we need to talk to or meet or encourage. We still know we are the closest of friends and will always be there for each other. When I asked her to speak at our Teacher Appreciation Dinner this year, she said, “Yes, I will!” Then she added, “Wait. What do you want me to speak on?” And of course she did a wonderful job.
One of my friends I’ll call Encourager. We have only been close friends for three or four years. I lose track. She has attended at our church for a few years, but not until recent years have we come together to help and encourage each other. She is also a good friend to my daughter, which I love. We included her in our Mother’s Day celebration since she has no children.
We started by occasionally having lunch together. She is very busy with her career, so that didn’t happen often. Then her husband died and she was somewhat off the grid for a while. I had offered her our home as a respite when needed, and she started taking me up on it. She has come to us a few times for two nights, three days. She helps me cook dinner and we do our usual casual breakfasts and lunches. We’ll talk a lot, often deeper conversations than I’m used to, then go to our own private spaces or computers to work. Since she is a black woman, I was surprised to hear her say both Obama and Trump have been bad for this country. She is a deep thinker. She leaves refreshed and Steve and I are uplifted.
Another friend is Splendid. We taught at the same school for 23 years, 13 of those side by side, teaching the same grade. We have shared hopes and fears, happiness and sadness, since we first met in 1977. She taught both of our children and has counseled me wisely about them. We retired at the same time and for years had lunch together once a month. We have been friends through her wedding and years later her husband’s untimely death and beyond. We can talk to each other about anything, though she is unrealistically insecure, not realizing how intelligent and capable she is. Since we retired, she has two or three part-time jobs and takes care of her lovely home, mowing grass, redecorating, etc. She always looks very put-together and I love being with her.
Another friend is Gorgeous, though she’s never seen herself that way. She, too, is insecure (Is there a pattern to my friendships?) but shouldn’t be. She is capable and intelligent and competent. She did a great job of raising her children with slight help/interference from her husband. When he traveled a lot in recent years, she learned even more about herself and her abilities as she became more independent. I love talking with her about our lives and our children and husbands.
My friend Beautiful has a son my daughter’s age and they were great friends as they grew up in our church. In fact, we sometimes thought they might end up married to each other, but each of them found someone else that is a great match. I was disappointed only in that I would like for our local church to have more biracial couples.
Beautiful and I talk a lot about race and racial issues. I like to get her thinking on what’s going on. It’s not that different from mine, in many ways. We both see our country’s situation as deplorable. She and others have helped me see that being color-blind is not a good thing. We have to recognize our differences in order to reconcile them. We talk about white families raising black children, and wonder how those children will adapt as adults when they are thrust into situations that black parents teach their children how to handle. How will they manage when they think as their white parents did yet are seen by the world as, for example, a black man? It’s complicated, and I appreciate her openness in talking about it.
I’m thinking I don’t have enough time to ramble about all my good friends, but I don’t want to leave out my friend Traveler. She loves to travel and explore and has made a good life for herself as a retired, divorced woman. Even though I’ve known her for 20 years as the mother of a good friend, only in recent years since she moved to Cincinnati have we become close. She is a gem—intelligent, well-read, competent, compassionate. She put her life on hold to let her granddaughter move in with her in her small condo for her senior year of high school. She loves to be helpful to others as well as to travel, with or without friends or family. I admire her adventurous spirit and consideration for her family.
Of course some of my friends are much younger than I, and they help to keep me young—my daughters and Traveler’s daughter and another I’ll call Brilliant. Brilliant helps her parents a lot, but she’s also an amazing friend and help and support for me and for Steve. All these young women are always available to talk or to pray with me and I sometimes wonder what I would do without each of them.
One thing that all of these friends have in common is that we can pray together. We support each other in our faith and in living faith-filled lives. I am so blessed to have these strong women in my life.
Next week I am going to spend some days with friends from high school. That’s another kind of friendships, those based on shared history, often understanding things about each other that no one else can grasp. That will be fun, too. And I love it that even though we didn’t pray together in high school, now we do. Each of us has explored the Bible and found our own ways to faith.
How can one woman be so blessed with such a multitude of wonderful friends?
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
I Corinthians 15:57