Sunday, March 05, 2006

What is a friend?

Over the years I have had many times where I asked myself what a friend was. The deffinition changed from time to time. Sometimes it was more about them understanding me and others it was about me "getting" them. All in all, over the years I have come to some conclusions about friendship. It has to be a give and take. It will never be a 50/50 give and take. Sometimes my friends need 100% from me and can't give anything back. Other days it reverses. You can't count the favors or gifts. Most importantly,a friend is there when you need them. Unless they are undergoing their own crisis and sometimes that happens to. In order to have friendships you have to be understanding and forgiving. Many people cannot do that. The older I get the more tolerant I am of the shortcomings of others. I now accept that I make mistakes, am far from perfect. Knowing that how can I expect more of others? It wouldn't be fair. I do the best I can and hope that my friends do the same.
There have been times in my life where I felt very let down by friends. In hindsight I can usually understand now, applying a bit more maturity. I hope that they will give me the same benefit of the doubt. There was one time in particular that I have found difficult to accept. That friendship was something I let go of. I cannot see it ever resurfacing. My feelings have changed so much for this person. When I was undergoing my heart surgery I wanted to see most of my friends before it happened. One friend, Laura had driven nearly an hour and we were going out to dinner. We asked another friend JoAnne to join us. She said no but invited us back to her house afterward. I was so looking forward to this reunion. We had all met when our children were patients of a hemotologist/oncologist. We had known each other for over ten years and we had really been there for JoAnne when she lost her daughter. I had also been there for J as she went through two divorces and later when her ex husband committed suicide. There was never a moment when she called that I didn't drop everything and go. That night when we arrived we were barely seated when she got a phone call from some guy she had been dating (who refused to make any commitment to her and seemed to be using her). He told her we needed to leave so he could come over and they could have sex. Mind you, the guy had been off work all day and could have come at any time but waited until 9p.m. when we were there. I sat there in shock as she told him to come and told us to leave. She said that we had to understand. Hmmmm NO. I never received a call of apology. I had the surgery, spent three weeks in the hospital and a long four month recovery where I was at home, not even able to drive. She never called or came over. About a year later she sent an email saying she was sorry if she had upset me. I feel that an act such as that showed she had no regard for me as a friend. Despite all I had done for her. I never did anything hoping for payback. I just expected friendship and caring. I have never contacted her and frankly, I lost all respect for her that night. I have learned from some others who are still speaking to her that her relationship with this man continues to be the same.
While JoAnne abandoned the friendship during my crisis, my friend Laura came to the hospital nearly everyday.When I finally got out of CICU and had a phone I called her and left a message. It was 4a.m. but I was so confused I thought it was the afternoon and asked her where she was! When I was in CICU I was only allowed to have my husband and son visit but she called Rob daily for updates and to give him support. She even helped me to "wash" my hair with this crazy stuff that is not really shampoo but after ten days of not washing it, you are happy to have anything removed! Laura and I have shared some happy times and some difficult times. She has COPD and a son with severe hemophilia. Her life is hard. When she lost her mother I was heartbroken not to be able to attend the funeral but I had just started a new job and was on probation. I was only able to take ONE day off during that 90 day period and that was for my grandmother's funeral. I wasn't allowed the day before or after off. Only the one. Laura understood. She knew I had to have that job to make it. REAL friends understand that we have limitations. In the real world there will be legitimate times that a friend cannot be there for you no matter how much they want to be. However I do not consdier a booty call a valid reason!
Today is Laura's birthday. Last year on March 4th the day before her birthday, Laura rode with me to pick up Duffy. She knew that meant I wouldn't be able to take her out for her birthday the next day. We stopped at a small restuarant and got lunch and I gave her her gifts. She was o.k. with that. That is REAL friendship. She said her best gift was seeing the look on my face as I held Duffy! So today, I want to say that I have many things in my life that I am grateful for. My friends are one of them. Laura in particular. She's not perfect, but she's giving and wonderful and loving and I treasure her. Even when she's in a bad mood and wont' pick up the phone!
I know that when I lost Sandie she cried with me. I know when she lost her Tashu I cried with her. Friends share your joys and pain. So today, HAPPY BIRTHDAY LAURA!
Thank you for all the joy and caring and love you share with me on a daily basis.
I'll be up there later and I hope we can go to the Cheesecake Factory for lunch. OX


IndigoSunMoon said...

You are absolutely right about friends. Sometimes it's more give than take, and sometimes it's more take than give.
Loved this entry Nelle!

Judith HeartSong said...

what a wonderful friend... and you are a wonderful person who deserves many such friends Dear Nelle.